Put sleep on your heart-health menu.
If you eat well and exercise regularly, you’re doing great things for your heart, your brain, and your overall health. But your sleep habits matter, too, and if you’re among the 40 percent of Americans who get less than 7 hours of shut-eye a night, it’s time for a change. We know that people who don’t get enough sleep are at higher risk of having a stroke or heart attack, and a new clinical study explores why. Among the study participants, those who regularly slept less than 7 hours a night had low levels of three important molecules in the body that support cardiovascular health. Future studies are needed to further connect the dots, but our marching (er, snoozing?) orders are clear: Prioritize good sleep. You may have to burn the midnight oil every now and then, but make it the exception rather than the rule. Set yourself up for a solid night’s rest by sticking with a set bedtime and wake time, exercising regularly, limiting caffeine and alcohol, managing stress, and—we have to say it—putting your screens away well before bedtime. Changing the lights in your bathroom and bedroom can help to—use red wavelengths only within 3 hours of bedtime. If you do all of these things and still have trouble sleeping, or if you think you may have a disorder like sleep apnea, talk with your doctor. For heart health, Zzzz-ing is believing!