Sleep deprivation, now considered by the CDC to be an epidemic in the United States, is believed to affect 60% of all Americans. And it’s killing us.
According to new data from the American Heart Association, 360,000 cardiac arrests are assessed by emergency medical services in the United States every year. The AHA says that more than 700,000 individuals will have a new or recurrent heart attack this year.
Although smoking, obesity, and a host of other lifestyle choices can exacerbate one’s chances of suffering a cardiac episode, one of the least understood components of heart health remains sleep. In fact, individuals who sleep for seven or fewer hours each night are twice as likely as an adequately rested person to suffer a heart attack.
“Some men make their Monday-morning commute in an ambulance instead of an Audi,” says Jim Gorman of Men’s Health. “After reviewing the hospital records of nearly 5,600 heart-attack patients, German researchers observed that the risk of a heart attack is 33 percent higher on Monday than on any other day, possibly because of the stress of starting the work week.”
Week in and week out, Monday mornings always begin the same way – with an irritating, body-jolting alarm clock that blares until a peaceful slumber is no more. Consequently, a growing number of medical researchers are questioning the role played by the alarm clock in the abnormally accelerated rate of early morning heart attacks.
Research shows that waking up to an alarm clock triggers a sequence of unnatural and unhealthy involuntary physical responses.
When the alarm sounds, for example, adrenaline is immediately released into our veins, as the alarm triggers a response comparable to that which we experience when facing danger or a threat of imminent bodily harm.
This adrenaline rush instantly leads to an increased heart rate and a spike in blood pressure.
Although the alarm clock isn’t commonly thought of as something that triggers a fight-or-flight mechanism in the human body, it often does exactly that. And for those of us who are overweight, habitually stressed, and chronically sleep deprived, the alarm clock – and not that first cup of coffee – is the morning’s biggest jolt. And it’s also the unhealthiest.
So what can be done about this alarming trend?
Research shows that waking up “naturally” is gentler and safer for the mind and body. Of course, teaching yourself to wake up at a specific time every morning isn’t foolproof (and good luck explaining that to your boss, while you’re at it).
But there are reliable mechanisms at your disposal that are just as natural and easy on the old ticker.
With a majority of smartphone-owning Americans now using their mobile devices for an alarm clock, waking up calmly and feeling refreshed may be just an app download away.
Designed by neuroscientists and inspired decades of research in sleep, sound and music, Sleep Genius has quickly gained a reputation as one of the world’s most sophisticated and effective sleep programs following its launch in June.
Although the app has been shown in clinical trials to be 77% effective in helping subjects get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer, Sleep Genius is just as valuable in the morning as it is at night. That’s due to the app’s “Revive Cycle Alarm,” which gradually awakens users from any stage of sleep.
Instead of waking up to harsh, obnoxious sound, you’re roused from sleep by gentle, calming sounds that ease you out of sleep, helping you feel refreshed.
Although most Americans don’t equate the traditional alarm clock with being a threat to anything other than a chipper morning disposition, the facts tell us otherwise. Conventional wisdom suggests that most attacks would follow an intense workout or stressful workday, but cardiovascular incidents of all types and degrees of severity happen in the morning – especially, right after waking.
“The risk of having a heart attack is about 40-percent higher between 6 a.m. and noon,” says Dr. Richard N. Fogoros. “Other cardiac events, such as cardiac arrest and stroke, are also more likely in the morning.”
To learn more about pitching the stressful pitch of your morning alarm clock, check out the Sleep Genius solution and its Revive Cycle Alarm.
The app is available now on iTunes and, we're told, coming soon to Android.