Harvard Heart Letter

Sleep problems, heart disease often in bed together

Disturbed sleep can trouble the heart and a troubled heart can disturb sleep.

Sleep seems to be such a serene way to replenish energy and restore the mind. For your heart, blood vessels, and immune system, though, it's anything but peaceful. There are periods of calm, to be sure, but they are rudely interrupted by abrupt spikes in blood pressure and heart rate. Blood flow through the heart and brain varies widely during sleep, as do electrical activity in the heart, the elasticity of blood vessels, and the tendency of blood to clot. And all of this activity is just part of a normal night's sleep.

Researchers are just beginning to reveal the two-way street between sleep and heart disease: Poor sleep can interfere with the heart, and heart disease can disturb sleep.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »