Lack of Sleep May Hurt Your Heart

Even if five hours feels like a full night's sleep, the lack of Zs might spell trouble for your heart. In a study of about 6,500 adults, researchers discovered that women who slept five hours or less nightly were twice as likely to have high blood pressure as women who snoozed for seven hours or more. Not getting enough sleep may also increase risk for diabetes and obesity, notes lead study author Francesco Cappuccio, M.D.

Depriving yourself of sleep may stimulate a stress response, which could in turn elevate your blood pressure, explains Donna Arand, Ph.D., clinical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at Kettering Medical Center in Dayton, Ohio. To set yourself up for healthier sleep, Arand recommends designating regular sleep and wake times for yourself, getting some exercise daily (preferably in the late afternoon), and avoiding caffeine after noon. "And if insomnia is a problem," she adds, "try relaxation techniques, guided imagery, and deep breathing to help you fall asleep."

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