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You need your sleep. If you're like millions of Americans, you may be suffering from a sleep disorder without realizing it. Worse yet, you may not realize the impact that sleep deprivation plays on your health, or the health of your child.
There is considerable research that proves sleep is important for survival. Sleep restores and heals the body. A good night's sleep helps you to concentrate, maintain healthy moods, and build a strong immune system. Untreated sleep disorders can put you at increased risk for heart disease.
How much sleep do I need?
Most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep each night. To find out how much you need, keep a sleep log of your sleep habits for two weeks. Avoid changing any of your sleep habits during this time, and continue going to bed as you usually do. Then, document your bedtime and wake time, and note how you feel each morning. Do you feel refreshed? Or, do you feel tired and are you sleepy during the day? At the end of the two weeks, review the log to find the days that you felt refreshed. Notice how many hours of sleep you had, and that is an indicator of how much sleep your body needs.
The link between sleep and your heart
Several studies have been conducted to link the connection between sleep and the heart. The results have revealed a correlation between individuals with sleep apnea and those who develop cardiovascular disease.
When we fall asleep, our blood pressure and heart rate lower in preparation for sleep. People who have sleep apnea experience a cessation of airflow during sleep, which can cause arousals in the sleep activity. These arousals or disruptions in sleep activity cause the blood pressure and heart rate to return to higher activity levels.
Once sleep resumes, the blood pressure and heart rate return to lower activity levels. Unfortunately, the rising and lowering of blood pressure and heart rate during sleep can eventually affect the stability of blood pressure and heart rate while awake and can lead to the development of hypertension.
Another affect sleep apnea can have on the cardiovascular system is the decreased amount of oxygen levels available in the blood stream during an apneaic episode.
If you've been diagnosed with hypertension, coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, arrhythmia, type 2 diabetes or stroke, you are at increased risk for sleep apnea. See the Sleep Disorder Breathing (SBD) Prevalence in patients with cardiovascular disease below.