SLEEP MATTERS: Better Sleep = Stronger Heart
Posted by Dean Karnazes on Mar 1st 2023
Four hours, that was the benchmark. If I could get four hours of sleep or fewer a night that was held up as a testament to my superhuman level of fitness and health. All the while I was working out incessantly to strengthen and condition my heart and cardiovascular system. No sleep and plenty of exercise, I was onto something.
I fooled everybody, including myself, into believing that I had the ultimate formula for human performance, one without compromise. Sleep little, and exercise vigorously every day and you, too, could achieve optimal cardiovascular health.
After several disciplined years of maintaining this protocol, my fitness levels peaked and eventually began to reverse and decline. This was before the advent of heart rate monitors and smart watches, but I noticed discernible and deleterious changes to my heart health. My pulse would hasten, even while walking up a small set of stairs, when once I could run up mountains with little strain.
That's when it occurred to me that there could be a connection between sleep and heart health. So it didn't come as a terrible surprise when I read the new findings by researchers at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health that reported sleep as being an important predictor of cardiovascular health.
“Our results demonstrate that sleep is an integral component of cardiovascular health,” said Nour Makarem, PhD, assistant professor of epidemiology and lead author of the study. Dr. Makarem further noted that addressing overall sleep hygiene is important, including addressing highly prevalent mild sleep problems rather than solely focusing on major sleep disorders. In other words, little improvements in sleep can lead to big improvements in heart health.
And nothing has improved my sleep better than a waterbed. Even when I knew that sleep was an important factor for cardiovascular health, I still struggled with sleep disruptions (mainly from pressure points on my foam mattress and improper spinal alignment). Switching to a waterbed helped eliminate these issues. Sleeping on a waterbed also helped me recover better after workouts or strenuous weekend activities, and I measure this by monitoring heart rate variability (HRV) and sleep cycles.
Of course, there are many factors that contribute to cardiovascular and heart health, but getting better sleep by switching to a waterbed is something easy to implement, and with Afloat’s 100-night guarantee you can rest assured that if you’re not entirely satisfied you can return the bed for a refund. Though, if you’re like me, there’s no way you’re giving up your waterbed!
Dean Karnazes has run hundreds of marathons over the course of several decades. He attributes sleeping on a waterbed as one important factor that’s kept him active throughout the years.