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3 Ways to Sleep Your Way to a Healthier Heart

New research connects the health of your heart to getting enough sleep, with findings that show how getting enough sleep helps regulate the production of inflammatory cells in your bone marrow and the health of blood vessels, Massachusetts General Hospital reports. Conversely, insufficient sleep disrupts inflammatory cell production, ultimately contributing to plaque buildup known as atherosclerosis.

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Mounting evidence suggests that getting sufficient, high-quality sleep is absolutely necessary not only for a healthy heart, but to ward off inflammatory and chronic diseases of all sorts. In fact, one study already shows that those who sleep less than six hours a night are 27 percent more likely to have subclinical atherosclerosis than those who sleep seven or eight hours a night.

Along the same line, people with fragmented sleep, meaning they wake up often or have trouble falling asleep, have a 34 percent increased risk of subclinical atherosclerosis than longer sleepers. Additionally, people who sleep less than seven hours a night also have an increased risk of heart disease overall.

So, what do you do if you’re someone who isn’t used to sleeping seven or eight hours, or if you simply have trouble getting to sleep or staying asleep? Here are three ways to help yourself help your heart:

1. Be sure you’re sleeping in complete darkness, as light (even that from a night light or alarm clock) can disrupt your internal clock and your production of melatonin and serotonin, thereby interfering with your sleep. In the morning, bright, blue-light-rich sunlight signals to your body that it's time to wake up. At night, as the sun sets, darkness should signal to your body that it's time to sleep.

2. Keep the temperature in your bedroom no higher than 70 degrees F. Scientists believe a cooler bedroom may be most conducive to sleep, since it mimics your body's natural temperature drop. If you don't want to crank down the temperature on your air conditioning, sleeping naked may do the trick.

3. Eliminate electric and electromagnetic fields (EMFs) in your bedroom. These can disrupt your pineal gland's production of melatonin and serotonin, and are a significant contributor to mitochondrial damage and dysfunction, which is at the heart of virtually all chronic disease.

Other tricks include prepping yourself for a good night’s sleep by turning off all electronics a minimum of one hour before bed, and establishing a routine that tells your body bedtime is on the way. For example, taking a hot bath every night just before bed or reading a chapter of a book could be habits you could adopt.

Establishing a consistent bedtime that you stick to helps your body’s circadian rhythm get in place and ready for sleep each night, too. As a backup if you’re feeling stressed or anxious, try the Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), a gentle tapping technique similar to acupuncture without the needles.

It’s easy to learn and can help balance your body's bioenergy system and resolve some of the emotional stresses that are contributing to your insomnia at a very deep level. The results are typically long lasting and improvement is remarkably rapid.

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