Sleep Archive


Addressing poor sleep may help heart health

Growing evidence suggests that poor sleep is linked to a host of health problems, including a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Now, a recent study on people in midlife finds that having a combination of sleep problems may nearly triple a person's risk of heart disease.

Not-so-sweet slumber

Morning back and neck pain are often triggered by sleep position or poor choice of mattress or pillow. Certain sleep poses, especially stomach-down, can lead to pain by creating misalignment of the spine and other areas of the body. To prevent back and neck pain, people can switch sleep positions frequently, align all body areas when shifting positions, use firmer pillows, consider buying a new mattress, and place a foam wedge under the pelvis or between the legs while sleeping.

Too little sleep may be hard on your heart

Not getting sufficient sleep may harm the cardiovascular system by triggering physiological and hormonal changes that increase blood pressure, blood sugar, and blood levels of substances that indicate inflammation. People who don't regularly get at least seven hours of sleep a night should assess their daily habits to look for ways to improve, such as by establishing an earlier bedtime and turning off all electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime.

When is a sleep study needed?

Most people with obstructive sleep apnea don't know they have it. An at-home or in-lab sleep study can reveal the condition, which hinders breathing while asleep. A doctor can determine which type of test is best for each patient.

Can music improve our health and quality of life?

Humans' relationship with music is complex and individual, and there are times when music can have a clear and immediate impact on our well-being. Music therapy uses music as a therapeutic tool to address certain health care goals.

Can an implanted tongue-stimulating device curb your sleep apnea?

A mask-free, implanted device for sleep apnea that works by stimulating the tongue was approved by the FDA in 2014 as a second-choice treatment for people who are unable to tolerate a positive airway pressure machine.

The big sleep problems

The average person wakes up around four times every night. But as people age, the number of awakenings can rise as they spend more time in the earlier, lighter sleep stages and less time in the later deeper stages. This sleeping pattern makes them more sensitive to stimuli that awakens them. Older adults can avoid common stimulus by wearing earplugs and sleep masks to block noise and light, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol to avoid bathroom trips, and doing stretches before bedtime to reduce nighttime cramping.

Summertime blues?

Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is less common in summer, but a seasonal pattern of depressive symptoms can occur despite exposure to many hours of daylight. Many summertime SAD symptoms resemble overall depression markers, but eating and sleeping patterns can deviate. People can combat summertime SAD by sticking with antidepressants and psychotherapy, maintaining routines, exercising, and taking a break from social media.

What's the best sleep position to combat heartburn?

Among people with chronic heartburn, sleeping on the left side appears to help backed-up stomach acid leave the esophagus faster than sleeping on the right side or back, according to a study in the February 2022 issue of The American Journal of Gastroenterology.

How cardiology experts fight heart disease

Doctors advise that the best ways to lower risk for heart disease is to exercise, eat right, and adopt healthy lifestyle habits, like stress management, social engagement, and adequate sleep. But what do cardiology doctors do to practice what they preach? Three Harvard cardiologists share their heart-healthy habits and how they've overcome the same challenges their patients face.

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