Heart hazards: Study links stress and insomnia to atrial fibrillation

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stress-and-insomnia(NaturalHealth365)  In the hustle and bustle of modern life, stress and insomnia have become unwelcome companions for many, creating a seemingly relentless pace that often leaves us just out of reach of our pursuits.  As we navigate this demanding journey, the toll of stress on our bodies has been well-documented, and the repercussions of insomnia on overall health are no secret.  However, a recent study has uncovered a new layer of risk, particularly for postmenopausal women.

This study sheds light on the increased risk for atrial fibrillation, emphasizing the significant impact of insomnia and stress on cardiovascular health.

Study explores the link between psychosocial factors and atrial fibrillation (AFib)

Before we delve into the details, let’s familiarize ourselves with some essential terminology.  Atrial fibrillation (AFib) is a cardiac condition characterized by an irregular and often rapid heartbeat.  This condition poses significant risks, including blood clots, heart failure, stroke, and other complications related to the heart.

During an AFib episode, the atria (upper chambers of the heart) exhibit irregular beating, falling out of sync with the ventricles (lower chambers).  While AFib may manifest without noticeable symptoms, it can also cause a pounding, accelerated heartbeat, feelings of lightheadedness, and shortness of breath.

A recent study by Dr. Susan X. Zhao and her team set out to examine the relationship between psychosocial factors and AFib.  They analyzed data gathered from over 83,000 women aged 50 to 79, assessing various aspects such as stressful life events, social support, optimism, insomnia, and sleeping habits.

Chronic stress and insomnia are more dangerous than you think

After almost ten years of data analysis and follow-up, the researchers found a close association between AFib and psychosocial factors.  This indicates that there are mental health risk factors for AFib that cannot be ignored and should be identified and addressed as such, although there is a need for more studies to explore this further.

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Of the 83,736 women in the study, 23,954 (25%) developed atrial fibrillation.  Stress was a major contributing factor.  Insomnia was also found to play a part in the development of  AFib.  Each additional point on the insomnia scale increased the likelihood of developing AFib by 4%.  On the stressful life event scale, each additional point increased the likelihood of AFib by 2%.

Get a better night’s sleep and lower your stress

Improving your sleep and alleviating stress can have lifesaving benefits.  However, it’s essential to recognize that stress and sleep issues often go hand in hand.  Stress can negatively affect both the quality and quantity of your sleep, creating a cycle where inadequate sleep induces more stress on the body.  The key lies in addressing both aspects simultaneously.

Consuming fresh, organic, whole foods is a positive step.  Proper nutrition is crucial in enhancing your body’s ability to cope with stress and can contribute to improved sleep.  Additionally, incorporating regular exercise into your routine is equally important for overall well-being.

Find stress-reducing exercises and habits that work for you.  This might include journaling, crocheting or knitting, breathing exercises, mindfulness exercises, or talking with someone.  Not one thing works for everyone, so you need to find what works best for you.

Improving sleep can be as simple as getting on a schedule.  Find your natural bedtime and learn to work with your unique sleep patterns.  You might also try sleep-inducing activities such as drinking herbal tea, taking a warm bath, reading a book, or listening to calming music.  Experts also recommend creating a sleep haven in your bedroom with a cooler temperature, clean sheets, and low lights.  Sleeping with a fan or white noise machine can also help.

The general (healthy) ‘rule of thumb’ for sleep is: go to sleep, as close to sundown as possible and wake up just before sunrise.  At the very least, be sure to sleep from the hours of 10 p.m. and 2 a.m. – which are the most restorative hours for your body to be asleep.

Remember, your health is important, take the time to find ways to care of yourself, get more sleep, and relax.  Stress will always be there, but you don’t always have to be crippled by it.  You deserve a better quality of life than one riddled by chronic mental and emotional stress.

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