Sleep And Cholesterol: What You Need To Know
When it comes to fighting high cholesterol, diet and exercise habits are the first things that come to mind for many people. Researchers are now looking at the amount of sleep you get each night to find the answer. They may have discovered an important link that could help you avoid heart disease.
What Is Cholesterol?
When you hear the word “cholesterol,” you probably think it’s bad. However, cholesterol isn’t always bad. Cholesterol plays an important role in the body’s production of vitamin D and certain hormones, as well as in the formation of cell membranes.
There are different types of cholesterol. Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) is the type of cholesterol that is often associated with negative health effects. It is made up of fat, not protein. Too much LDL can build up in the arteries and form fatty plaques, which can lead to heart disease.
High-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, on the other hand, has the ability to absorb excess cholesterol. It first provides your body with the essential elements it needs, and then cleans up anything that may have built up. Rather than avoiding cholesterol altogether, you need to know how to get the right type of cholesterol in your diet and how to adjust your numbers.
How Sleep Affects Fats
The effect of sleep on blood fats is highly variable and seems to affect men and women differently. In some studies, no significant difference was found between sleep and lipid profile, while other studies found that too much or too little sleep affected HDL, LDL and/or triglycerides.
In some studies, HDL and triglyceride levels appeared to be more affected by sleep duration for women than for men. In some cases, women who slept less than 6 hours or more than 8 hours had a 6 mg/dL decrease in HDL levels and a 30 mg/dL increase in triglyceride levels. In most studies to date, LDL does not appear to be significantly affected by sleep patterns.
Sleep patterns appear to have a different effect on men. Some studies have shown that LDL increases to 9 mg/dL in men who sleep less than 6 hours. In most of these studies, triglycerides and HDL cholesterol did not appear to be significantly affected.
One study also found that either too much sleep (more than 8 hours) or too little sleep put people at higher risk for metabolic syndrome, a set of signs and symptoms that include lower HDL, elevated triglyceride levels, obesity, and elevated blood pressure and blood sugar levels.
Why Can Sleep Negatively Affect Your Blood Lipids?
While there appears to be a relationship between sleep and high blood lipid levels, certain factors in these studies may also contribute to high cholesterol levels. In some of these studies, it was also found that people who slept less (less than 6 hours) per night also had poorer lifestyle habits, such as working under more stress, skipping at least one meal a day or eating out, not exercising, and being more likely to do so – all of which can lead to higher cholesterol and triglyceride levels, as well as an increased risk of heart disease.
In addition, reduced sleep is thought to alter hormones such as leptin and ghrelin, both of which may lead to increased appetite, food consumption and obesity. It is also believed that lack of sleep may increase cortisol levels, which may contribute to the inflammation that leads to heart disease.
Who Is At Risk For High Ldl Cholesterol?
The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that all adults over the age of 20 should be screened for high cholesterol on a regular basis. You can have this blood test done as part of your annual visit. You may need to pay special attention to your levels if you have high blood pressure, are over the age of 45 (men) or 50 (women), smoke, or have a family history of high cholesterol.
You may also be at risk if you have a poor diet, if you are more sedentary (don’t exercise) or if you are under a lot of stress. Scientists are also studying the link between sleep and high cholesterol.
Cholesterol And Sleep
In a study published by SleepTrusted Source, researchers found that both too much and too little sleep can have a negative impact on blood lipid levels. They studied a group of 1,666 men and 2,329 women over the age of 20. Sleeping less than five hours at night increased the risk of high triglycerides and low HDL levels in women. Sleeping for more than 8 hours gave similar results. Men were not as sensitive to excess sleep as women.
Sleep deprivation can also lead to higher LDL cholesterol levels, according to a study published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Nursing Trusted Source. People who get less than six hours of sleep per night are at significantly increased risk for cardiovascular disease. In addition, the researchers found that snoring was associated with lower levels of good HDL cholesterol.
Young people are not immune to the link between cholesterol and sleep. In another study published by SleepTrusted Source, researchers determined that sleep deprivation led to increased appetite for cholesterol-rich foods, decreased physical activity, and high-stress levels. Again, young women were more sensitive to sleep habits than young men. Interestingly, cholesterol levels in these groups improved with each additional hour of sleep.
In most of these studies, the researchers explained that other lifestyle choices led to higher cholesterol levels. Some people with poor sleep habits also engaged in other activities that might increase their risk, such as smoking, poor diet or low exercise levels.
In addition to encouraging healthy sleep habits, there are things you can do to protect yourself from high cholesterol and heart disease. Diet is one of the biggest concerns. To help control your cholesterol, avoid foods high in saturated fat, such as meat, butter, cheese, and other high-fat dairy products. You should also supplement with foods that help lower LDL cholesterol, such as nuts, avocados, olive oil, and oats.
Exercise is another important part of the equation. The AHA recommends incorporating at least 40 minutes of moderate walking or other exercises into your day, three to four times a week. If you don’t like walking, try biking, jogging, swimming or other activities that get your body moving and your heart pumping.
Whenever you are concerned about your general health, consult your doctor. If you have one of the risk factors for high cholesterol, a quick blood test can reveal many problems and allow your doctor to intervene. Sometimes lifestyle changes can get the numbers back on track. Your doctor may also prescribe statin drugs to lower your cholesterol if necessary.
Sleep problems are another issue you can bring to your doctor’s attention. Even an extra hour of sleep each night can make a difference in your numbers, so try to go to bed a little earlier at night. Relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation are excellent ways to relax before bedtime. If these home methods don’t help, your doctor can point you in the right direction or possibly prescribe medication.