Are you getting less sleep than you should? It’s time to fix that. Learn about the true importance of sleep: a heart health essential.
The American Heart Association (AHA) considers seven modifiable components essential to ideal heart health, including eating healthily, exercising, and more. Recently, the AHA added sleep as one of those essential components in what is now known as Life’s Essential 8.
“This is a good way for [people] to measure it today, monitor it over time and focus on ways to maintain and improve it,” says AHA president Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones, who led the expert panel that wrote the advisory.
Getting Enough Sleep
According to the advisory, adults should get an average of seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Moreover, it notes that too much or too little sleep is associated with heart disease and poor psychological health.
The update is “a really good recognition of how science has changed, and our ability to adapt according to the changes,” says Cheryl Anderson, co-writer of the advisory and dean of the Herbert Wertheim School of Public Health and Human Longevity Science at the University of California San Diego.
Updating the Guidelines
In addition to adding sleep as a component, the guidelines replace its previous scoring method while also making changes to original categories. For example, while it previously only considered traditional cigarette use under the “smoking” component, it now includes exposure to e-cigarettes, nicotine use, and secondhand smoke. The guidelines also look at diet in a new way.
“Before, we had five very clunky yes-or-no metrics to say whether someone had a healthy diet or not,” says Lloyd-Jones. “And that wasn’t really appropriate for all different types of eating patterns and cultures.”
Anderson adds that people shouldn’t focus on single items. “We want to think about the whole package. There is no one food or nutrient that will completely overhaul one’s cardiovascular health.”
Improving Heart Health
The updated guidelines make it easier for people to see their progress as they work to improve their heart health. “The positive changes don’t have to be really big,” says Anderson. “They can be moderate. And you can still get credit for it within this new approach.”
According to Lloyd-Jones, what matters is that you’re improving in any of the categories. “If I have three or four things of the eight that are suboptimal that I could work on, do I need to tackle three or four at once? Absolutely not,” he says. “The data show us that picking and improving one thing will actually have a measurable impact on improving your health and improving your health outcomes.”
In addition to following these guidelines, you can give your heart health an extra boost by taking supplements like L-arginine Plus. Its ingredients promote circulation, blood pressure health, and more. As you work to improve your heart health, look into Life’s Essential 8 and support your health with L-arginine Plus.