What health conditions are linked to a lack of sleep?

Claudann Jones Adults who sleep less than seven hours each night are more likely to say they have had health problems, including heart attack, asthma and depression. Some of these health problems raise the risk for heart disease, heart attack and stroke. Over time, sleep problems can hurt your heart health. These health problems include:

• High blood pressure. During normal sleep, your blood pressure goes down. Having sleep problems means your blood pressure stays higher for a longer amount of time. High blood pressure is one of the leading risks for heart disease and stroke. About 75 million Americans — one in three adults — have high blood pressure.

• Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes is a disease that causes sugar to build up in your blood, a condition that can damage your blood vessels. Some studies show that getting enough good sleep may help people improve blood sugar control.

• Obesity. Lack of sleep can lead to unhealthy weight gain. This is especially true for children and adolescents, who need more sleep than adults. Not getting enough sleep may affect a part of the brain that controls hunger.

The best advice is to stick to a regular sleep schedule. Go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, including on the weekends. Get enough natural light, especially earlier in the day. Try going for a morning or lunchtime walk. Avoid artificial light, especially within a few hours of bedtime. Use a blue light filter on your computer or smartphone. Don’t eat or drink within a few hours of bedtime, especially alcohol and foods high in fat or sugar. Lastly, keep your bedroom cool, dark and quiet.

For more information on health and wellness, contact Claudann Jones, Smith County Extension agent for family and community health, at 903-590-2980; or email at cmjones@ag.tamu.edu .

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