Lack of sleep can give you serious health problems

Tessy Igomu

A consultant Cardiologist, Dr. Eugene Nwosu, says lack of sleep or prolonged insomnia is a risk factor for heart disease.

Nwosu said sleep deprivation can cause the body to secrete more cortisol and consequently, increase risk of high blood pressure, which can. over time, lead to heart disease.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise, the American-trained heart specialist and medical director of United Heart Hospital and Clinic, Lagos, said disrupted cortisol level affects other aspects of human health, and can compromise immunity, leading to serious health problems.

“If you are not sleeping well and have rapid heartbeat or high resting heart rate, it can lead to heart attack.

“A high resting heart rate, or a heart rate of more than 100 beats per minute, means your heart is working extra hard to pump blood through your body

“The usual range for resting heart rate is anywhere between 60 and 90 beats per minute. Above 90 is considered high.

“Insomnia can also affect thyroid function and decrease immunity, making it difficult for a person to get rid of something as simple as common cold.

“It can lead to weight gain, affect metabolism, cause fogging and lack of concentration,” he said.

He advised those experiencing insomnia to seek appropriate treatment that can help improve sleep and to also consider making lifestyle changes.

According to Healthline, insomnia is a common sleep disorder that can make it hard to fall asleep, hard to stay asleep, or cause one to wake up too early and not be able to get back to sleep.

It explained that insomnia may be linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, adding that it can sap not only energy level and mood, but also affect the health, work performance and quality of life.

The online health publication noted that how much sleep is enough varies from person to person, but most adults need seven to eight hours a night.

“Chronic insomnia is usually a result of stress, life events or habits that disrupt sleep.

“Treating the underlying cause can resolve the insomnia, but sometimes it can last for years,” it added.

According to a new research carried out by the Obesity Research Center, Tulane University in New Orleans, United States, adults with the healthiest sleep patterns had a 42 per cent lower risk of heart failure regardless of other risk factors compared to adults with unhealthy sleep patterns.

The study published in Circulation, a peer-reviewed, American Heart Association’s flagship journal, stated that healthy sleep patterns include rising in the morning, sleeping seven to eight hours a day and having no frequent insomnia, snoring or excessive daytime sleepiness.

The researchers noted that heart failure affects more than 26 million people, and that emerging evidence indicates sleep problems may play a role in the development of heart failure.

They revealed that the observational study examined the relationship between healthy sleep patterns and heart failure, and included data on 408,802 UK Biobank participants, between the ages of 37 to 73 at the time of recruitment (2006-2010).

Incidence of heart failure, they said, was collected until April 1, 2019, and that they recorded 5,221 cases of heart failure during a median follow-up of 10 years.

Corresponding author and professor of epidemiology at Tulane University, Lu Qi, said they analyzed sleep quality as well as overall sleep patterns.

He noted that the measures of sleep quality included, “Sleep duration, insomnia and snoring and other sleep-related features, such as whether the participant was an early bird or night owl, and if they had any daytime sleepiness (likely to unintentionally doze off or fall asleep during the daytime).

“The healthy sleep score we created was based on the scoring of these five sleep behaviors.

“Our findings highlight the importance of improving overall sleep patterns to help prevent heart failure.

“Sleep behaviors were collected through touch screen questionnaires.

“Sleep duration was defined into three groups: short, or less than 7 hours a day; recommended, or 7 to 8 hours a day; and prolonged, or 9 hours or more a day.

“After adjusting for diabetes, hypertension, medication use, genetic variations and other covariates, participants with the healthiest sleep pattern had a 42 per cent reduction in the risk of heart failure compared to people with an unhealthy sleep pattern.

“They also found the risk of heart failure was independently associated and: Eight per cent lower in early risers; 12 per cent lower in those who slept 7 to 8 hours daily; 17 per cent lower in those who did not have frequent insomnia; and

34 per cent lower in those reporting no daytime sleepiness.”

Qi, pointed out that participant sleep behaviors were self-reported, and that the information on changes in sleep behaviors during follow-up were not available.

He said other unmeasured or unknown adjustments may have also influenced the findings, and that the study’s strengths include its novelty, prospective study design and large sample size.

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