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Why Cardiologists Care About Your Sleep Habits

In this video, learn why sleep is one of the most important things you can do for your heart health.

Brittany DoohanMera Goodman, MD, FAAP
Written by Brittany Doohan | Reviewed by Mera Goodman, MD, FAAP
Updated on February 27, 2023

When you think of heart-healthy lifestyle choices, eating a nutrient-rich diet, moving more, and quitting smoking may come to mind. But there’s one crucial factor that you — and more than one-third of Americans — may be forgetting: getting enough sleep.

“One thing my patients may not realize is how important sleep is for their overall health and also for their cardiovascular health,” says Paul Knoepflmacher, MD, a clinical instructor in medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. People who don't sleep enough are at higher risk for high blood pressure, which is a major risk factor for heart disease — regardless of their age, weight, smoking, and exercise habits.

This is especially true for people who suffer from sleep apnea, a sleep disorder in which breathing is briefly and repeatedly interrupted during sleep. “Sleep apnea is absolutely correlated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, cardiac death—and a lot of us are sleep deprived,” says Dr. Knoepflmacher.

Why is sleep so important for your health? “During that rest period, your body is regenerating fresh new cells [and] getting rid of the bad cells; the garbage,” says Satjit Bhusri, MD, a cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital. “If you don’t get enough sleep, you have an accumulation of this trash that causes both mental and physical problems.” For example, sleep deprivation can cause your hunger hormones to go out of whack, which can lead to unhealthy eating and weight gain. (Here are more ways your body suffers when you skimp on sleep.) “For your whole body, for all your organs, for your brain, for your heart—all of that regeneration, that turnover of fresh new cells, happens while you sleep,” says Dr. Bhusri.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that adults get 7 to 9 hours every night, but 6 or 10 hours may be appropriate for some people.

“A lot of it has to do with how someone feels and the quality of their sleep,” says Dr. Knoepflmacher. “If you’re sleeping 10 hours, and you’re waking up and you’re not rested, that’s no good. And there are some people who can get by on 6 hours and they’re perfectly well-rested,” he says. The best way to know if you’re getting quality sleep? Listen to your body and avoid these seemingly innocent sleep-sabotaging habits.


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Additional Medical Contributors (4)
  • Paul Knoepflmacher, MDDr. Knoepflmacher is a clinical instructor of medicine at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, where he also maintains a private practice.
    • Sonal Chaudhry, MDDr. Chaudhry is an endocrinologist at NYU Langone Health in New York City.
      • Nesochi Okeke-Igbokwe, MDDr. Okeke-Igbokwe is an internist and health media expert in New York City.
        • Satjit Bhusri, MD, FACCDr. Bhusri is an attending cardiologist at the Lenox Hill Heart & Vascular Institute and an assistant professor of cardiology at Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine.


          American Heart Association. (n.d.). Sleep.

          National Sleep Foundation. (2022). How Sleep Deprivation Affects the Heart.

          View All References (2)

          National Sleep Foundation. (2023). Sleep Apnea.

          National Sleep Foundation. (2023). National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times.

          GoodRx Health has strict sourcing policies and relies on primary sources such as medical organizations, governmental agencies, academic institutions, and peer-reviewed scientific journals. Learn more about how we ensure our content is accurate, thorough, and unbiased by reading our editorial guidelines.

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