Insomnia affects approximately 10-15% of people.
But sleep trouble is a much more common complaint about people with heart problems, affecting as many as 44% of cardiac patients.
Insomnia and Heart Failure May Have Similar Risk Factors
One reason for the high incidence of insomnia in heart failure patients may be because the two conditions share some common risk factors.
For example, sleep apnea, a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep, occurs in approximately 50% of heart failure patients and is a common cause for people with insomnia.
Sleep apnea is closely associated with obesity because excess weight can lead to obstruction of your breathing airway during sleep. And obesity is also a significant risk factor for heart failure.
Insomnia May Worsen Heart Health
Sleep loss and low-quality sleep increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and can also worsen existing heart conditions.
Restful sleep allows your blood pressure to drop and gives your heart a chance to recover from the day’s stresses.
Poor sleep, on the other hand, can leave your blood pressure elevated for an extended period of time, significantly raising your risk for heart attack, stroke, and tissue damage.
Sleep also helps regulate blood sugar levels. In cases of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, insomnia may make it more difficult to control blood sugar levels, which can then cause damage to your blood vessels.
Understanding this connection allows you to reduce the risk of heart disease by improving your sleep quality. Suppose you can stick to a regular sleep schedule, avoid activities that interfere with restful sleep (such as too much caffeine or screen time at night), and get help for conditions like sleep apnea that make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. In that case, you may be able to improve your heart health as well.
Heart Disease Can Make it Harder to Sleep
It’s not just that insomnia can worsen heart health—heart disease can also make it more challenging to get a good night’s sleep.
Cardiac conditions like heart failure and coronary artery disease often come with shortness of breath, chest pain, and arrhythmias that make it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Chronic illnesses can also be emotionally stressful, leading to anxiety, depression, and difficulty sleeping.
All of these factors and more can make it challenging to get the restful sleep your body needs to heal and recover from heart disease.
If you are struggling with insomnia, heart problems, or both, talk to your doctor about ways to improve your sleep and manage your heart condition.