General Practitioner, GP Practice, Hospital

Five ways restorative sleep is a key for good heart health

Sleep rests the body and mind. It is a requirement for survival, yet you may find getting good quality sleep is affected by many reasons, both in its quality and quantity.

Poor sleep can affect many aspects of wellbeing. Poor sleep can have an impact on energy levels, hormones, metabolism, emotional wellbeing, relationship stressors and heart disease. Sleep can affect all aspects of well-being and it is in your interest to speak with a medical/health professional to assess if you have an undiagnosed sleep disorder.

The amount of sleep required varies depending on who you speak to. What is vital, is your individual sleep, (or lack of it) and to have any concern addressed to discover the underlying reason. Good quality sleep often reduces both blood pressure and heart rate and this then decreases the work rate of the heart.

Below are five ways for you to protect your heart health and help yourself to sleep well.


  1. The bedroom is a place for sleep (or sex) 

One place. One purpose. Your brain can be trained by your daily habits or behaviours. Indicate to yourself, by visual or verbal prompts, that it is a place and time for sleep. Restorative sleep is the aim. Try creating a calm and quiet, cool, low-lit room for sleep, void of bright lights, loud sounds and electronics. Create other places and spaces outside of the bedroom; for television, work, phone calls and device use. 


  1. Prioritise sleep

Sleep like all things in life needs to be actioned. For you to function efficiently over time, the body needs sleep time to filter the body of toxins and restore. Sleep is essential for brain function, and helps the body maintain good health and perform daily activities. Try and create routines for bedtime, such as your waking up time and keeping your sleeping clothes the same. Again, these are cues for your brain that this place and this time, are for sleep.


  1. Symptoms of possible sleep stealers

Each person has unique lifestyle factors that may cause variation in sleep. Indicators of a sleep difficulty could be: difficulty falling or staying asleep, waking tired, fatigued during the day, snoring (bed partner can share this) or feeling lethargic. Insomnia and sleep apnoea are two common sleep disorders that when left undiagnosed or untreated could lead to risk factors for heart disease. It may be beneficial to record your sleep observations and have your sleep patterns objectively observed. Seek medical advice if sleep deprivation is becoming an issue for your wellbeing.


  1. The interplay of heart health and sleep

Having heart failure, heart disease or high blood pressure may cause you to develop sleep issues. Medications, exercise, movement, emotions, illness, injury or surgery are examples that may impact sleep. Patients who may have long-term medical conditions such as heart or kidney disease may find laying down difficult and may sleep in an armchair to remain upright, but this may impact the quality of sleep. Heart failure can cause sleep problems and ongoing, untreated sleep problems have been linked to other cardiac conditions, such as atrial fibrillation.


  1. Create a bedtime routine

Create a bedtime routine to calm your mind and relax your body. You could try any of the following strategies:

  • Play calming music and create a calm sleep space as mentioned
  • Meditate
  • Listen to relaxing music
  • Gently stretch
  • Breathe or use breath control – Breath control is something you can try almost anywhere. Breathe deeply and exhale slowly, focus on what makes you calm and picture in your mind the people and places that bring you joy.
  • Find a book, class or teacher and learn a way that works for you to calm the mind and relax the body.


Sleep is essential for life. The restorative power of sleep assists with optimal daily function and helps protect the heart. It is vital to wellbeing and health and is a complex process. Whilst you gain a good night’s sleep, your brain and body keep working! Speak with your doctor, cardiac or sleep specialist about good sleep habits to see if you could improve your sleep patterns, environments, routines and or length.



Disclaimer. This information is general and not conclusive. Follow any guidelines and advice from your doctor or specialist, health care or multidisciplinary team, for your personalised patient centred needs and care. Inquire about a patient advocate group regarding your specific needs. Call 000 if you experience chest pain.

All information contained in this article has been derived from Hope for Hearts, a cardiac resource centre.

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