Sleep deprivation may take a toll on your heart health. According to a latest study, men who slept less than six hours a night were at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who sleep between seven and eight hours. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, examined 3,974 bank employees among which all were without known heart disease and two-thirds were men. The findings revealed that poor quality of sleep anywhere less than six hours could be linked with risk of atherosclerosis (hardening of arteries due to fatty deposits on arterial walls). People who slept less than six hours were 27 percent more likely to develop the cardiac condition, as compared those who had seven to eight hours of sleep.
"Cardiovascular disease is a major global problem and we are preventing and treating it using several approaches, including pharmaceuticals, physical activity and diet," said Jose M. Ordovas, researcher at the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) in Madrid.
"But the study emphasizes we have to include sleep as one of the weapons we use to fight heart disease -- a factor we are compromising every day," he added. The study also said that alcohol and caffeine consumption also led to short and disturbed sleep
"Many people think alcohol is a good inducer of sleep, but there's a rebound effect. If you drink alcohol, you may wake up after a short period of sleep and have a hard time getting back to sleep. And if you do get back to sleep, it's often a poor-quality sleep," Ordovas said.
Previous studies have also shown that lack of sleep may raise the risk of cardiovascular disease by increasing heart disease risk factors such as glucose levels, blood pressure, inflammation and obesity.
Your diet may play a big role in determining the quality of your sleep. Having excess of greasy, sugary and spicy food too close to bedtime may affect your sleep. Here are some foods that are known to induce sleep naturally:
1. Milk: Milk is enriched with tryptophan, an amino acid that helps produce serotonin. Serotonin has soothing effects in the brain, which helps you have a sound sleep. According to 'The Complete book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies,' adding a pinch of nutmeg, a pinch of cardamom and some crushed almonds could do wonders to combat sleep deprivation.
2. Cherries: The ever-so-delightful cherries contain melatonin, which is a hormone produced by the pineal gland that is known to regulate our sleep-wake cycle. Make sure you do not have more than 10-12 of them in a day
3. Bananas: Not only are bananas a good source of tryptophan, it also contains some good carbs that may promote some sound sleep. A good source of magnesium, bananas also help keep you heart muscles relaxed.
4. Almonds: Almonds are also a good source of tryptophan, which has soothing effect on brain. It is also a good source of magnesium that is essential to keep your heart steady and relaxed.
Including these foods in your diet may do wonders for your sleep deprivation. However, before making any major alteration to your diet, it is always advised you seek an expert opinion.
Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information.
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