Making sure you're sleeping in the optimum position helps relieve stress on blood vessels that return the blood to the heart as hypertension is one of the biggest risk factors for cardiovascular disease
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Many of us are living with high blood pressure - where blood pumping too forcefully against the artery walls could cause health problems if left untreated.
Also known as hypertension, it’s one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
As such, it’s essential to do everything we can to improve the condition – and how we sleep can play a vital role in this.
Sleep apnoea is a disorder that causes numerous lapses in breathing.
It triggers the brain to pump more blood to key areas such as the brain and heart.
This puts added pressure on your artery walls and spikes your blood pressure higher than if breathing normally.
Sudden drops in blood oxygen levels during sleep apnoea increases blood pressure and strains the cardiovascular system.
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Additionally, having obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) increases a person’s risk of hypertension complications.
“OSA is marked by episodes of airway collapse, which blocks airflow into the lungs and often causes snoring and gasping during sleep”, says The Sleep Foundation.
“In central sleep apnoea (CSA), breathing lapses occur because of a lack of communication between the brain and the muscles involved in breathing.”
Care provider Medicover Hospitals says: “Most adults stay in bed without giving a second thought to how they’re actually positioned. It is such a routine habit that many do not consider the health effects of sleeping in one way or another.
“But sleep researchers and doctors say our sleeping position is important.
“Sleeping on your stomach, back or side can make a difference in snoring, sleep apnoea, neck and back pain, and other medical conditions.”
What is the best sleeping position?
Sleeping on the left side is thought to be the best sleeping position for hypertension because it relieves blood pressure on blood vessels that return blood to the heart.
Back pain can also cause significant sleep disturbances, so avoiding any sleeping positions which puts strain on this area should be avoided.
“Resting on your side, with your back mostly straight, can help to reduce sleep apnoea,” adds Medicover.
Alongside better sleep hygiene, watching your diet is essential when attempting to lower your reading and avoiding cardiovascular health complications.
Foods to avoid before bedtime and cut down on during the day include:
- Salty foods
- Sugary foods
- Red meat
- Saturated fats
- Processed and pre-packaged foods
- Sugary drinks