With overstimulation, stress, and shifting schedules, it's no wonder that many people these days are turning into insomniacs. Despite it becoming as common as a cold, however, nighttime restlessness isn't something to be yawned at. More than the frustration and fatigue that it causes, the inability to get a good night’s sleep may also increase your risk of heart failure, according to an article on NBCNews.

Researchers from several universities in Scandinavia followed the sleeping habits and heart failure rates of over 50,000 men and women for a span of 11 years, taking into account the three most common symptoms of insomnia: having trouble falling asleep, having trouble staying asleep, and waking up fatigued.

The results were alarming. Those who said that they experienced only one symptom occasionally had a five percent increase in heart failure risk, while those who answered that they experienced one often had a 14 percent increase in risk. Those who experienced all three regularly had thrice the chance of heart failure.

Study co-author Lars Laugsand of the Norwegian University of Science and Technology explains that insomnia is caused by hyperarousal, a state that keeps your brain and the rest of your nervous system active even during times of rest.

A dangerous domino effect then takes place: anxiety due to hyperarousal causes the body to release stress hormones to the bloodstream, which in turn increases blood pressure and causes inflammation. Inflammation then triggers the release of catecholamines, which are compounds that are linked to cardiovascular conditions.

In order to avoid or lessen insomnia symptoms, Laugsand recommends getting better sleep by making a few changes in your lifestyle. Avoid watching television, working on the computer, or even napping at least 30 minutes before going to bed. Giving your brain time to slow down before it fully rests lowers the chances of overstimulation.

(Photo by Alison Young via Flickr Creative Commons)

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