Sleep Your Way to Better Heart Health


By Dr. C. Michael Wright

It goes without saying that a good night’s sleep is essential to our health. From improved alertness to an increase in overall energy, feeling well-rested throughout the day is an important part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Plus, who doesn’t love to wake up feeling refreshed?

But when it comes to our heart health, did you know that sleep can actually lead to positive outcomes such as cardiovascular protection?

According to the latest study, getting at least seven hours of sleep a night can lower the risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). The risks are further reduced when an individual follows optimal health habits like staying active, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and drinking alcoholic beverages in moderation.

The Monitoring Project on Risk Factors for Chronic Diseases (MORGEN) in the Netherlands published the study July in the European Journal of Preventative Cardiology.

“When we think of cardiovascular protection, we usually think of the traditional lifestyle factors and also cholesterol and body mass index [BMI], [but] so far sleep has not been an issue,” said senior author Dr. WM Monique Verschuren, lead researcher, according to


However, this is the latest study to discover the benefits of sleep when it comes to our heart health.

Prior to the study, researchers were unaware of the risks associated with a lack of sleep in addition to traditional CVD factors. But the latest findings reveal that a good night’s sleep reduced risk of composite CVD by 22 percent and fatal CVD by 43 percent in the study participants, making sleep all the more valuable to our health and our hearts.


The good news is that good sleep can be relatively easy to add to your schedule. Here are 3 ways to increase your sleep, starting tonight.

Head to bed an hour early.

Most people can’t afford to sleep in due to work or home schedules, so why not turn in a little early? An extra hour a night can be sufficient enough to bridge a gap in sleep deficiencies, especially for those who have regular sleep patterns.

Nap on the weekends.

If at all possible, try to get in few hours of sleep on the weekends. An easy way to sneak some sleep is in front of the TV or by the pool.

Avoid all-nighters.

Unless it’s absolutely urgent or an emergency, try to avoid staying up all night on work or home projects and get the much needed sleep your body needs to feel strong, healthy and refreshed.

Dr. Wright is a nationally-recognized, board-certified Cardiologist in La Jolla and developer of the LifeScore Program,