Keeping a consistent routine, maintaining a healthy diet, exercising frequently, and planning time to relax can all contribute to building a healthy sleep schedule for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

People with heart conditions such as HCM may find it difficult to get enough sleep. HCM also increases the risk of sleep apnea, a condition that can disrupt sleep and increase the risk of cardiovascular complications.

A healthy sleep schedule can help support a person’s heart health and may help reduce the risks of complications from HCM.

This article discusses eight tips for building a sleep schedule with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, choosing sleep aids, and practicing healthy sleeping habits.

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that adults sleep for 7–9 hours per 24 hours.

Getting enough good quality sleep is important for maintaining heart health. According to the AHA, a lack of quality sleep can affect heart health in various ways.

These include:

  • Increasing inflammation: Not getting enough sleep may lead to inflammation in the body, which scientists have linked to a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.
  • Increasing other risk factors: Insufficient sleep can lead to several cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as hypertension, diabetes, and obesity.
  • Affecting mental health: Insufficient sleep may contribute to mental health conditions, such as depression, which can affect heart health.
  • Affecting lifestyle factors: A lack of sleep can make it more difficult to maintain healthy lifestyle factors that help reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Without consistent, quality sleep, a person may experience higher stress levels and find it more difficult to exercise and eat a balanced, nutritious diet.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), maintaining a consistent sleep schedule can help improve sleep health.

A person can aim for a consistent sleep schedule by:

  • setting a bedtime that will allow sufficient sleep time
  • going to bed at the same time each night, even if they do not feel tired
  • waking up at the same time each morning, including on weekends
  • avoiding napping during the day

People can adjust these recommendations to suit their circumstances if, for example, they work nighttime shifts.

Following a wind-down routine before bed may help a person train themselves to relax and become ready for sleep. A relaxing routine may include:

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a person can make the following adjustments to improve their sleeping environment:

  • ensuring the room is quiet
  • adjusting the temperature, if possible, so the room is cool
  • turning off lights and all electronic devices to make the room as dark as possible
  • making sure the bed is comfortable

Exercise is important for heart health. It can also help tire a person and improve sleep quality.

Low intensity exercise may be suitable for people with HCM.

According to 2020 research, people with HCM can probably safely use low weights and high repetitions during weight training and do light aerobic cardiovascular exercise, such as swimming, cycling, or walking.

However, a person with HCM should discuss exercise with a doctor to ensure their level of physical activity is safe. People with HCM symptoms especially need to avoid moderate to intense exercise.

Good “sleep hygiene” refers to healthy habits that can help improve a person’s sleep.

Healthy sleep habits include avoiding:

  • caffeine in the afternoon and evening
  • alcohol before bedtime — as well as its effects on sleep, alcohol is dehydrating and may also worsen symptoms of HCM
  • eating close to bedtime
  • exposure to screens, electronics, and bright lights in the evenings

A person should avoid eating large meals close to bedtime or foods that may trigger heartburn, such as spicy or acidic foods.

Eating too close to bedtime may increase a person’s likelihood of waking through the night and disrupt their sleep quality.

As well as interfering with sleep more generally, large meals can cause postprandial hypotension — a drop in blood pressure after eating — and worsen HCM symptoms.

Lying down soon after eating may also lead to heartburn or increase the risk of symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux disease. This can cause discomfort and make sleep more difficult.

Learn more

Learn more about heart-healthy diets that can decrease the risk of cardiovascular complications.

If a person has a sleep disorder, such as insomnia, sleep apnea, or restless leg syndrome, they may require sleep aids. A doctor may be able to help treat sleep disorders.

Treatments may include:

A healthy sleep schedule may help improve heart health and reduce the risk of cardiovascular complications from HCM.

A person’s sleep schedule can vary based on an individual’s circumstances. However, a sleep schedule for someone with HCM may look like this:

7 a.m.Wake up with the help of an alarm each day, including weekends and vacations.
7:30 a.m.Eat a heart-healthy breakfast that will maintain energy throughout the morning, such as oats or granola with chia seeds, flaxseeds, nuts, fruit, and low fat or plant-based milk.
8–11:30 a.m.Go about daily tasks. If opting for a caffeinated drink, green tea can be a heart-healthy option that can improve focus and metabolism.
11:30 a.m. to middayGo for a pre-lunchtime walk outside. Or, engage in some other low- to mid -intensity exercise at a level a doctor says is safe. Make sure to take time to rest afterward.
midday to
1 p.m.
Have a healthy lunch, such as quinoa, brown rice, vegetables, and fish. Take time to rest after lunch with some meditation or easy yoga. Avoid napping.
1–3 p.m.Go about daily tasks. Avoid caffeine, including caffeinated sodas, past this time. It generally takes 4–6 hours for the body to metabolize half the amount of caffeine a person has consumed, and consuming it later may affect a person’s sleep schedule.
6 p.m.Limit exposure to bright lights and maintain a dim, comfortable atmosphere. Engage in a relaxing evening activity, such as chatting with family or friends, watching a film, or reading a book. Avoid alcohol and high sugar foods.
7 p.m.Begin a wind-down routine, such as a relaxing bath followed by meditation. Turn off all electronic devices and avoid screen time.
8 p.m.Arrange any necessary sleep aids, such as sleep medication or devices.
9 p.m. Go to bed.

A person may wish to use this example as a template, making adjustments where necessary.

People with HCM and other heart conditions should aim to get enough quality sleep. Getting 7–9 hours of sleep may help reduce the risk of complications from heart disease.

There are several steps a person can take to help improve the amount and quality of sleep they get. These include having a regular sleep schedule, practicing good sleep hygiene, avoiding caffeine and large meals before bed, and getting enough physical exercise.

If a person has a sleep disorder or finds it very difficult to get enough quality sleep, a doctor may be able to treat them with medication, therapy, or devices like a CPAP machine.