Could Deep Sleep Benefit Your Heart?

Sleep is a vital aspect of human life, with deep sleep being particularly crucial for overall health. The brain recovers during this sleep stage, and the rest of the body seems to regenerate then as well. Recently, researchers at ETH Zurich and the University of Zurich have shown that increased deep sleep is of particular benefit to the cardiovascular system: targeted stimulation with brief tones during deep sleep causes the heart — in particular the left ventricle — to contract and relax more vigorously. As a result, it pumps blood into the circulatory system and draws it out again more efficiently. The left ventricle supplies most organs, the extremities, and the brain with oxygen-rich arterial blood.

When the heart contracts, the left ventricle is squeezed and wrung out like a wet sponge. The more immediate and more powerful this wringing action, the more blood enters the circulation and the less remains in the heart. This increases blood flow, which has a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.

An interdisciplinary team of heart specialists led by Christian Schmied, Senior Consultant for Cardiology at the University Hospital Zurich, used echocardiography (cardiac ultrasound examinations) to demonstrate that the left ventricle undergoes more intense deformation after nocturnal stimulation. This is the first time anyone has shown that an increase in brain waves during deep sleep (slow waves) improves cardiac function. The corresponding study was recently published in the European Heart Journal.

Excerpted from Science Daily

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