The heart & the sleep

The heart is the engine of our body and ensures that we are healthy and efficient day after day. When we sleep, our cardiovascular system also comes to rest. But what happens to our heart when we sleep too little or poorly? Here you can find out how sleep disorders damage the heart and what importance good sleep really has for heart health.

Table of Contents

  1. Our heart & the sleep
  2. This is how sleep disorders damage the heart
  3. Sleep better with and for a healthy heart

1. Our heart & the sleep

The heart is the engine of our body and fundamental to our vital functions. The heart is a muscle about the size of a fist and, together with the blood vessels, forms the vital cardiovascular system. Its central task is to regulate the blood circulation and daily up to 10. 000 liters of blood to be pumped through the blood vessels to all parts of our body. Because in order to function at all, our organs, muscles and body cells need oxygen above all. The heart drives the blood flow through constant contraction, i.e. muscle tension and relaxation, and thus controls the important delivery, removal or onward transport of oxygen and other nutrients in all parts of the body.

This central task makes a strong heart a basic requirement for our health and performance. Diseases of the cardiovascular system, on the other hand, represent an enormous health risk and are the most common cause of death in Germany.

Just like the brain, the heart never sleeps. At rest and with low physical activity, it beats an average of 60 to 80 times per minute (resting heart rate). At night, when we lie quietly in bed and sleep, our physical activity drops to a minimum and our brain is also under much less strain than during the day. This also reduces heart activity, the heart rate drops again by about 10 beats per minute during sleep and blood pressure drops.

Herz-Kreislaufsystem im Schlaf: Herzaktivität, Blutdruck

In this way, the constantly active heart muscle can recover from the stresses of the day and recharge the energy stores. Sufficient sleep is also good for the heart. However, what happens to our heart when, on the contrary, we do not sleep enough or the nocturnal rest period is disturbed?

2. This is how sleep disorders damage the heart

Around a third of all adults regularly suffer from difficulty falling asleep or sleeping through the night. A normal heart function contributes fundamentally to the fact that all parts of the body are supplied with sufficient oxygen and urgently needed nutrients via the blood, even during sleep, and that we can sleep well and restfully. At the same time, the heart also recovers during sleep. Sleep disorders and particularly persistent sleep deprivation can therefore also damage heart health and increase the risk of diseases of the cardiovascular system.

The duration of sleep: lack of sleep / too much sleep

Schlafstörungen schaden Herz-Kreislauf-System

The optimal sleep duration is usually between seven and eight hours a night, but today every second German regularly sleeps less than six hours a day. Even two nights with too little sleep affect our state of health noticeably, but chronic sleepingl in particular can lead to overstraining of the cardiovascular system and damage the heart immensely. Scientific studies show that the risk of a heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular diseases more than doubles in people who regularly sleep less than five hours!

Insufficient sleep means stress for the organism, there is an increased release of stress hormones (e.g. B cortisol or adrenaline) and high nerve activity, causing the heart to beat faster and blood pressure to rise. If our blood pressure is too high, the heart has to pump against a greater resistance in the blood vessels. Due to the increased exertion and increased pressure, the heart muscle and blood vessels lose their elasticity, the arteries narrow, which further reduces our heart's performance and makes it more difficult for the transport of nutrients in the blood flow.

Not only too little, but also too much sleep is said to have a negative effect on the cardiovascular system, according to studies. With a daily sleep quota of more than nine hours, the risk of illness is 33% higher than for people who sleep between six and eight hours. In this article we explained exactly what too much sleep means for the body and the psyche. The right amount of sleep therefore makes a decisive contribution to good heart function.

Sleep quality: frequent awakenings / breathing stops

Many reasons can cause us to wake up in the night or wake up and be roused from sleep. Then the nervous system is activated, stress hormones are released and the body is put into a state of stress, with a sudden increase in heart rate and blood pressure.

Gestörtes Herz-Kreislauf-System im Schlaf: Junger Mann erwacht nachts aus dem Schlaf

Breathing problems, especially at night, damage the heart, e.g. B Breathing pauses due to so-called respiratory apnea, but also the more common snoring. Breathing disorders impede the supply of oxygen to the brain and organs during sleep, putting the body on high alert. Adrenaline is released, the person concerned is awakened and the cardiovascular system is suddenly activated in a harmful way.

3. Better sleep with and for a healthy heart

A healthy, strong heart and restful sleep are ultimately mutually dependent. A good heart function makes us efficient and ensures that our metabolism, hormone production or vital organ functions run smoothly and that a regulated blood flow can supply all parts of the body with oxygen and other important nutrients. The healthy blood circulation thus enables a natural sleep-wake rhythm and makes a decisive contribution to the smooth running of the sleep and recovery processes at night.

We all know that sufficient and restful sleep is of great importance for almost all of our bodily functions. But especially our "motor", the much-needed heart, quickly suffers from stress and the consequences of disturbed sleep. With an active everyday life and the right sleep hygiene you not only make it easier to fall asleep or stay asleep - you ensure a strong heart, promote your health and create optimal conditions for full performance in everyday life.

4. Conclusion

  • The heart controls the blood flow and forms the life-sustaining cardiovascular system with the blood vessels
  • Sleep disorders, lack of sleep and frequent awakenings can be detrimental to heart health
  • Lack of sleep increases the risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attack or stroke by more than 50%
  • If you sleep too much, the risk of illness is 33% higher compared to a healthy amount of sleep (6 - 8 hours per night)

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