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Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for heart and brain health

If you have ever struggled to sleep, you’re not alone. The American Sleep Association found that 40 percent of Americans are sleep deprived. Although a missed night or two may not have a significant long-term impact, healthy sleep is now considered essential for lifelong heart and brain health.

The American Heart Association recently updated its checklist that assesses cardiovascular health and added a new key measure, healthy sleep. Now called Life’s Essential 8, the checklist also includes weight, blood cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure, diet, physical activity, and nicotine exposure.

Studies have shown that too much or too little sleep is associated with heart disease, so prioritizing sleep is important. For adults, the ideal sleep duration is seven to nine hours daily. Sleep is crucial for cognitive function, mental clarity, the ability to concentrate, and so much more.

For those that find it difficult to get a good night’s sleep, here are some tips. Start with going to bed and waking up around the same time each day. Keep your phone and other electronic devices away from the bed and listen to music to wind down in the evening. Finally, it’s important to be active during the day. If you exercise, it often helps you sleep better.

If you clean up your sleep hygiene and still find it difficult to get restful sleep, it may be time to talk to your care provider. Possible sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, should be considered and, if found, need to be addressed. The use of sleep aids or supplements is also an option, but they are not recommended for regular use and should only be taken under the supervision of a medical provider.

A majority of heart disease and stroke risk factors may be prevented by healthy lifestyle choices like eating nutritious foods, moving more, avoiding nicotine, and sleeping well. A longer, healthier life is the goal and a good night’s sleep can play a vital role.

At risk for heart disease?

Heart disease comes in many forms and can affect people of any age, gender, or ethnicity. In fact, heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States. The more you can learn about your heart health, the better. Take this quick Heart Health Risk Assessment to know your risk.

Content source: The American Heart Association