Getting a good night’s sleep is a critical component of good health. Especially as you get older. On the flip side, studies link sleep problems, especially at younger ages, to serious health problems.
In fact, a new study recently looked at the effect of insomnia on your risk of developing cardiovascular disease or suffering a deadly cardiac event. Thankfully, as I’ll explain in a moment, there’s one simple, natural trick to dramatically improve the quality of your sleep…no drugs or supplements involved! I’ll tell you about it in a moment.
But first, let’s take a closer look at that new analysis…
Sleep dysfunction linked to poor cardiac health
For this new analysis, researchers looked at data from almost 500,000 men and women, ages 30 to 79 years, who had participated in the China Biobank Study. At the study’s outset, the men and women provided information about the occurrence and frequency of insomnia symptoms over a five-year period.
- 2 percent reported experiencing daytime sleep dysfunction (feeling sleepy or groggy during daytime because of poor sleep)
- 10 percent reported early morning awakening
- 11 percent had difficulty falling or staying asleep
Over the next 10 years, more than 130,000 participants developed cardiovascular disease. Plus, there were more than 40,000 heart attacks and more than 45,000 strokes.
And, as you might have predicted, those who had trouble sleeping at the study’s outset had a higher risk of suffering cardiovascular problems later in life…
Specifically, people who had trouble falling asleep and staying asleep had a 9 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, or suffering a heart attack or stroke, compared to those who didn’t suffer from insomnia. People who suffered from early morning awakening had a 7 percent higher risk. And those who had daytime sleep dysfunction had a 13 percent higher risk.
Plus, there was a strong “dose-response” effect between the number of sleep disorder symptoms and cardiac event risk. In other words, participants who suffered from more than one symptom of insomnia had a higher risk of cardiac event.
Specifically, experiencing one symptom was tied to a 7 percent increased risk, while two symptoms added up to a 10 percent increase in risk, and three symptoms shot the risk up to 18 percent.
The researchers also noted that insomnia was more common among older participants. But, for the younger participants who experienced it, the outcomes were much worse. Which means—the younger you are when you start experiencing insomnia, the more dangerous it is.
Not to mention, young adults who experienced insomnia, but did not have high blood pressure, had worse outcomes.
Thankfully, no matter what your age, there’s one simple trick to improving your sleep—naturally. And I touched on it in yesterday’s Daily Dispatch…
Spend 15 minutes in the early morning sun
As I mentioned yesterday, spending time in the sun helps improve your quality of sleep.
For one, it stimulates your skin’s natural production of vitamin D, which not only benefits sleep, but also has many other health benefits.
Second, humans are diurnal creatures. Which means we’re hardwired to be awake and outside during daylight hours, and to go to sleep at night after the sun goes down.
Specifically, upon exposure to sunlight, the optic nerve at the back of your eye sends signals to your brain’s pineal gland to start producing serotonin—the “feel-good” neurotransmitter. (The pineal gland is also called the vestigial “third eye” because it shares embryological development with the two eyes, derived from neural tissue.)
Then, when darkness descends, your body starts to convert the circulating serotonin into melatonin, which helps you sleep. Plus, studies show when you’re exposed to plenty of sunlight in the daytime, your nighttime melatonin production will occur sooner, and you’ll fall asleep more easily.
Of course, I know some people resort to taking melatonin supplements to help them sleep. But I advise against it. To paraphrase John Milton, “sun does more than supplements can/to grant a healthy sleep to man.”
Everybody sleeps great at the beach
You’ve probably experienced this kind of melatonin-rich sleep after spending time at the beach. Indeed, a lot of people report they “sleep like a baby” at the beach.
Well, that’s because at the beach (or near any large body of open water), you’re immersed in sunlight…
You obviously soak up lots of direct sun from the open sky above. Plus, the water reflects much of the sunlight back at you from below. Not to mention all the rocks and sand also reflect a lot of sunlight.
This intense, daytime sun exposure floods your body with serotonin. Then, when night falls, it gets turned into melatonin, giving you some of the best sleep of your life!
Of course, the seashore has always been a draw for artists, in part because of this spectacular light…
In fact, the unique light in Cape Ann, Massachusetts—where I grew up and now stay in the summer—is known for attracting artists and writers alike, including Winslow Homer, Louisa May Alcott, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Rudyard Kipling, and T. S. Eliot.
Cape Ann is a beautiful, historic peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the Atlantic. And its unique light relates to the precise angle of the sun in the sky. I also think it beautifully radiates the deep-blue of the sky, the dark-blue of the ocean, and the pink-gray granite of the rocky shoreline, exposed from the post-glacial era of the last Ice Age.
In the end, don’t take the benefits of sunlight lightly, so to speak. It clearly improves your sleep…and therefore your cardiovascular health. (It also lowers your risk of many chronic conditions including cancer, as I explained yesterday.)
So, make sure to spend at least 15 minutes out in the sun each day, without sunscreen—preferably first thing in the morning.
You can learn more about the many safe, effective, natural approaches for protecting your heart in a comprehensive learning tool called my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. To learn more about this innovative, online learning tool, or to enroll today, click here now!
P.S. Tune back in on Thursday for three more powerful ways to protect your heart.
“Insomnia symptoms and risk of cardiovascular diseases among 0.5 million adults.” Neurology, Dec 2019, 93 (23) e2110-e2120; DOI: 10.1212/WNL.0000000000008581