How much sleep does your heart need?

Since heart disease is so prevalent in my family, I’m always on the lookout for ways to keep my heart healthy and avoid the heart attacks and strokes that far too many of my relatives have suffered.

So, I’ve kept up to date on the latest research that’s shown that people who don’t get enough sleep are at greater risk of stroke and heart attack.

In fact, one of the studies found that men who sleep just 6 hours per night have dysfunctional endothelial cells — those are the cells that line your blood vessels — and their arteries don’t dilate and constrict as well as those who get enough sleep.

But the truth is though all of these problems have been connected to lack of sleep, no one really knew why…

Until now.

Cellular brakes

New research by a team of scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder has now discovered exactly why too little sleep can damage your heart. And the key lies in physiological regulators knowns as microRNAs.

MicroRNAs are small molecules that suppress the gene expression of certain proteins in your cells. They act like cellular brakes to keep the function of your cells from going haywire.

And, because of their importance, drug companies across the world are right now developing medications that correct impaired microRNA functions.

For the new study, the researchers measured the effect of insufficient sleep on those circulating microRNA signatures that are associated with inflammation, immune system function and blood vessel health.

They compared the levels of those microRNAs to the length of sleep in two groups of people — those that slept 7 to 8.5 hours nightly and those that slept 5 to 6.8 hours a night.

And, they found that people who slept less than seven hours each night have 40 to 60 percent lower levels of those microRNAs than people who slept enough.

“Why 7 or 8 hours seems to be the magic number is unclear,” said senior author Christopher DeSouza, a professor of Integrative Physiology. “However, it is plausible that people need at least 7 hours of sleep per night to maintain levels of important physiological regulators, such as microRNAs.”

There you have it. Sleep matters — and a healthier heart needs 7 or 8 hours.

Heart health protection

This means that in order to protect your heart health, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep since without it, the cells of your blood vessels are left without the regulation they need to remain healthy.

Luckily, I sleep well, but it all came about by accident…

Years ago, I added fish oil to my arsenal of heart-healthy supplements (then switched to Peak Krill Oil for quality). Little did I know (as some recent research I wrote about a few weeks ago revealed), omega-3s are the stuff dreams are literally made of.

But in addition to getting enough sleep, there’s one more thing you can do to keep the cells of your heart and blood vessels in optimal health — take a quality CoQ10 supplement.

If you haven’t heard of it before, Coenzyme Q10 is a nutrient used by every cell in your body for cellular energy and maintenance. Plus, it’s vital for protecting your cells from free radical damage.

Yet, as we age, our CoQ10 levels drop dramatically, leaving us open for a host of health conditions, including heart problems.

I recommend using a CoQ10 supplement that uses a highly bioavailable liquid crystal-free ubiquinol to deliver:

Higher blood levels of CoQ10 even at small doses

Greater levels of antioxidants to combat those damaging free radical

Superior absorption, so your body can use it immediately to help support the health of your heart and blood vessels

Now that you know exactly why sleep is an important part of the puzzle for heart health, you should definitely make it a priority — as well as supporting your heart with CoQ10.