How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart?

Medically Reviewed on 9/23/2021

Sleep conditions that affect heart health

Sleep is an important part of your body's functions.  Getting too little or too much sleep can have a negative impact on your heart.
Sleep is an important part of your body's functions. Getting too little or too much sleep can have a negative impact on your heart.

Sleep is an important part of your body’s functions. Proper sleep helps regulate and maintain basic human functions. Getting too little or too much sleep can have a negative impact on your heart. It’s important to get the right amount of sleep each day.

Several sleep conditions can affect your heart health. Here are two of them.

Sleep apnea

This health condition happens when your airway is blocked during sleep, causing you to stop breathing for short periods. Sleep apnea contributes to obesity and heart failure because it prevents you from getting the right amount of oxygen to all of your body. This can also increase your risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, and stroke.


People with this condition can’t fall asleep, have trouble staying asleep, or both. One in two adults will experience short-term insomnia during their lifetime. Insomnia can lead to heart disease, increase your stress levels, make you less active, and make you choose unhealthy food.

How sleep affects your heart

Sleep is important because it is when your body recovers. During non-rapid eye movement — or NREM, your heart rate slows, blood pressure drops, and breathing stabilizes. This gives your heart rest and lets it recover from the strain of the day.

If you don’t get into the deep stages of NREM, your body doesn’t get its required rest. The quality of your sleep may also be linked to what position you sleep in:

  • Altered position of your heart
  • Pressure on your lungs
  • Feeling of your heart beating against your chest wall

These feelings can keep you from falling asleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, there’s not enough research to prove that one position is better or worse than the other. However, they recommend sleeping on their right side. 

How much sleep you should get for your heart

There’s still debate around how much sleep you should get to remain healthy. However, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends seven or more hours of sleep each night for adults. Another study has shown that between 6 to 8 hours of sleep is the right amount for heart health.

You can, however, get too much sleep. Sleeping too much or not enough increases your risk of coronary artery disease. More than one-third of American adults sleep less than the recommended time. Seven to 8 hours is an ideal amount of sleeping time.

How to get better sleep

Some tips for getting a good night’s sleep include:

  • Keep a regular sleep schedule. Try to go to bed at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning, even on the weekends.
  • Get plenty of natural light — especially early in the day. Try going for a morning or lunchtime walk.
  • Try not to exercise within a few hours of bedtime.
  • 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 — avoid alcohol and foods high in fat or sugar in particular.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet.

By creating a comfortable, sleep-conscious space, you’ll have an easier time falling and staying asleep. Some things you can do during the day to help you fall asleep at night include:

  • Exercise each day
  • Avoid extra caffeine, especially before bedtime
  • Set your nightly routine and stick to it

Positive effects of good sleep

Sleep is not only good for your overall heart health. Adequate sleep also helps you feel refreshed and ready to be productive for the day. Good levels of sleep also help regulate your stress hormones, immune system, breathing, and mental health.

With 7 to 8 hours of sleep, you are likely to feel more alert and focused. Good sleep schedules also contribute to less depression and anxiety.

An often overlooked impact of a good night’s sleep is the weight loss benefits.  Sleep impacts your metabolism, so you can lose weight with a healthy sleep schedule.

When to see a doctor for sleep trouble

If you have a heart condition and have trouble falling asleep, you should talk to your doctor. You should ask them about the right sleep medication if you have an existing heart condition. Some insomnia medications aren’t safe for people with heart conditions.

If you don’t currently have a heart condition, you can also turn to a sleeping aid to help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep.


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Medically Reviewed on 9/23/2021

American Heart Association: "Sleep, Women and Heart Disease."

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "How Does Sleep Affect Your Heart Health?"

CIRCULATION: "Sleep Duration Linked to Cardiovascular Disease."

Current Opinion in Cardiology: "Sleep: Important Considerations for the Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease."

Heart Foundation: "How Can Bad Sleep Affect Your Heart?"

Sleep Foundation: "How Sleep Deprivation Affects Your Heart."