20 Surprising Ways You May Be Harming Your Heart

There's more to preventing heart disease than eating right and getting enough exercise (22 Photos)

Laura Flynn McCarthy on Oct 25, 2011 at 12:54PM

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20 Surprising Ways You May Be Harming Your Heart

Vas Antoniou/Flickr Open/Getty Images

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Skimping on Your Zzz's

Close to half of all Americans don’t get enough sleep, according to a recent Gallup poll. In fact, one in six people get a measly five hours of sleep a night. Whether you go to bed too late, get up too early or toss and turn all night long, if you don’t get enough rest, you may be harming your heart. “Sleep promotes lower blood pressure and reduces the likelihood of irregular heartbeats, and people who have good sleep habits are less likely to have heart failure and heart attacks,” says Dr. Foody. “If you do have trouble getting a good night’s sleep -- which is eight hours for most people -- see your doctor and get evaluated.” Your doctor may help you determine if there’s a medical reason for your poor sleep, such as restless leg syndrome or sleep apnea, and get you treatment if necessary. She may also suggest sleep habits that might help you sleep better, such as not eating a big meal or drinking alcohol right before bedtime, and trying to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.

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