The American Heart Association (AHA) has added sleep to its Life’s Essential 8 checklist. The checklist also includes: Not smoking, keeping a healthy weight, eating healthy, exercising, and controlling blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
Waking up tired is not normal and can signify sleep apnea, other sleep disorders, or serious health problems like heart disease or diabetes. It is recommended all adults aged 30+ get an at-home sleep test.
The AHA has over 20 million supporters, including health professionals, volunteers, and advocates who work together to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.
The association has several initiatives that help people live healthier lives. However, despite what they might do to promote good health habits, like eating right or exercising more often, there are still many people who struggle with staying asleep at night and suffer from sleep apnea.
The new checklist includes…
The new guidelines also urge clinicians to assess the patient’s sleep patterns. The checklist includes the following:
- Healthy weight
- Eating healthy and exercising regularly
- Controlling blood sugar
- Monitoring cholesterol
- Blood pressure
As a smoker, you’re more likely to develop heart disease, lung disease, stroke, and pregnancy complications.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking causes more than 480,000 deaths every year in this country alone—and those are just the ones we know about.
In addition to its well-known health risks (cancer and heart attacks), smoking has been linked with poor pregnancy outcomes such as low birth weight babies and premature births.
Can smoking affect sleep health? Absolutely. Smokers are three times more likely to have obstructive sleep apnea than people who’ve never smoked. Smoking can increase the amount of inflammation and fluid retention in the upper airway.
If you smoke or have smoked, now is a good time to take a simple at-home sleep test.
You may have heard that sleep apnea is the cause of obesity, but did you know it can be treated with non-surgical options too?
If you’re overweight and struggle to lose weight, getting a diagnosis of sleep apnea could be the key to your success.
While surgery is often used to treat sleep apnea, other options are available. One example is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), which uses air pressure via a mask worn at night that keeps your throat open while asleep.
Another option is weight loss surgery such as lap band surgery or gastric bypass; these surgeries help reduce the amount of food you eat by limiting how much room there is in your stomach. They also improve how quickly food passes from the stomach into the intestines, so it doesn’t stay there as long, and prevent hunger pangs from waking up in the middle of the night!
One final option worth mentioning here: lifestyle changes such as exercising more often every day will help burn off excess calories during each day’s activities which means less fat overall and easier breathing at night.
With convenient at-home sleep tests like Wesper, you can track your symptoms and get expert guidance to understand alternative treatment options.
Eating healthy and exercise
Eating healthy and exercising are two more ways to help your heart health.
The AHA recommends that adults participate in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week, as well as muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week for older adults.
If you’re just starting an exercise program, start with 10 to 20 minutes of physical activity most days of the week, then gradually increase your time. You should maintain a target heart rate during aerobic exercise to get the most benefit from it.
Aerobic exercise can help lower cholesterol levels and blood pressure and reduce stress levels. It also helps control weight gain by burning calories—a good thing since being overweight increases your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Not sure where to start regarding eating healthy and lifestyle changes? With Wesper, you can now speak with a sleep specialist to understand the changes needed to help you sleep better and manage sleep apnea.
Controlling blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure
These three things are interconnected.
For example, high levels of LDL cholesterol in the blood contribute to plaque buildup inside your arteries. When the plaque ruptures, it causes a heart attack or stroke. Controlling your blood pressure helps lower your risk for heart disease by keeping these factors in check.
The American Heart Association recommends that adults have their blood pressure checked every two years starting at age 18; their fasting lipid profile (total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides) checked every five years starting at age 20; and be screened for diabetes annually starting at age 45 if you have one or more additional risk factors such as being overweight or having a strong family history of Type 2 diabetes.
Waking up tired is not normal
If you’re tired all the time, it’s worth taking an at-home sleep test like Wesper to analyze your sleeping behavior and receive a customized improvement plan to address this common but important symptom.
Waking up tired is not normal and can signify a serious medical problem such as sleep apnea, in which someone stops breathing repeatedly during sleep. Sleep apnea can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and may lead to blood pressure problems.
Sleep apnea symptoms include snoring loudly; waking up gasping for air with a choking sound; waking up with dry mouth or sore throat from having stopped breathing for so long; morning headaches; memory lapses, or difficulty concentrating during the day, especially after naps. It’s important to note that people with sleep apnea can have a combination of these factors, but sleep apnea presents differently in each person.
There are many treatments available, and alternative treatments are being developed every day. To understand your sleep apnea, it is best to take an at-home sleep test with the ability to speak with a dedicated sleep specialist to understand what changes can be made to reduce symptoms and sleep better.
Sleep is an important part of living a long, healthy life
Sleep is an important part of living a long, healthy life. It’s crucial for your heart, too:
- Sleep apnea alone raises your risk for cardiovascular disease by 140%.
- Sleep deprivation can lead to cardiovascular disease and other health problems.
- Sleeping less than seven hours per night is linked to a higher risk of heart disease and stroke.
- Lack of sleep has been associated with high blood pressure and inflammation — both of which are linked to cardiovascular disease — as well as increased risk of diabetes and obesity.
That’s why the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends seven to eight hours of sleep per night for adults aged 18-60 years old, six to eight hours for those 61-69 years old, seven or more hours for people 70 years or older (unless they have underlying medical conditions that require less).
Remember that getting enough sleep is not just about feeling good in the morning. It’s about long-term health. So get tested and get your ZZZZs!