Sleep is the best way to relax and rejuvenate your body. It curbs all physical and mental stressors and reduces the risk of various health conditions, including cardiovascular complications. Researchers have found an "ideal time" to fall asleep that is best for your heart health. According to this study by the British Academics, going to bed in the "golden hour" can reduce your risk of dying from a heart attack or stroke.
While there are many reasons to prioritize a good night's sleep, protecting your heart tops the list!
From sleep quality to sleep duration, many parameters of your sleep affect your heart health.
According to the American Heart Association, poor sleep is associated with increased calcium build-up in the arteries. This can result in plaque formation, increasing your risk for heart attacks.
In fact, just one hour more sleep each night is associated with a 33% decreased risk of calcium build-up in arteries.
Image: Calcium plaque formation in the heart's artery
Not getting enough sleep (7-9 hours per night) can induce hormonal changes - especially those that regulate hunger. It increases the levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and decreases the levels of the satiety hormone leptin. This can lead to overeating and obesity, which is again a risk factor for heart diseases.
Excessive sleeping (>9 hours) can also increase the risk of developing a range of heart conditions.
Heart conditions associated with bad sleep include:
This study from the United Kingdom used an accelerometer device to examine the sleep onset and waking time in the study participants.
Accelerometers are devices that monitor sleep by sensing movements.
103,679 participants (in the UK Biobank recruited between 2006 and 2010) were made to wear the accelerometer for 7 days, and accelerometer data were studied.
After some filtering, a total of 15,653 participants were excluded from the study for reasons like:
The sleep-onset time (SOT) of the remaining 88,026 patients was recorded, and the relationship between SOT and heart diseases was investigated.
The study was done over a period of 6 years and reported that 3.6% of subjects later developed heart disease.
There was a U-shaped relationship between increased risk of heart disease and SOT - this suggests that there is an optimal SOT for reducing heart disease risk.
Image: Relationship between sleep-onset time and heart disease risk
Any deviations from this range - earlier SOT or later SOT can increase heart disease risk.
Image: Study Results
The findings of this study do not show a causal relationship between SOT and heart disease risk - it just implies a correlation.
However, there is a mountain of evidence that sleep is related to other risk factors of heart disease, like diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.
Creating a consistent sleep pattern: Waking up and going to bed at the same time every day (even during weekends and holidays) can help your sleep cycle function well.
Planning your naps: Midday naps, if not done correctly, can interfere with a good night's sleep. A short nap during the afternoon can help you get through your midday lull and not disrupt the night's sleep!
Getting enough sunlight: Natural light, especially during the day, can help your body's clock to function well, thereby promoting good quality sleep.
Improving your bedtime routine: Instead of looking at devices like mobile phones and laptops that emit blue light, listening to music, reading, or taking a relaxing warm bath before bed can help with the quick onset of sleep.
Having an early dinner: The CDC recommends not eating or drinking anything within a few hours of bedtime to give your body enough time to wind down.
Night shift work can impact your circadian rhythm by making you operate in a way that is “unnatural” to your sleep-wake cycle. A recent study has reported that people who work night shifts are at an increased risk of developing atrial fibrillation and heart disease. The study further reported that among the night shift workers, women who are physically inactive are at the highest risk.
Generally, the chambers of the heart work in coordination to pump the blood. However, in AF, the two upper chambers of the heart (right auricle and left auricle) beat chaotically and out of coordination with the two lower chambers (right and left ventricle) of the heart.
Some common symptoms associated with AF include :
Night shift workers, on average, get two to three hours less sleep than other workers. They often sleep through the day in two split periods; a few hours in the morning and then around an hour before starting the night shift.
It’s challenging to keep the sleep environment dark, free of noise, and relatively calm. A person working the night shift is at greater risk of various health conditions due to the disrupted circadian rhythm.
Researchers suggest that working the night shift may lead to hormonal and metabolic changes, which can increase the risk for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Further, studies report that circadian misalignment results in a drop in levels of the weight-regulating hormone leptin. This can increase heart disease risk by prompting an increase in appetite.
The study included 286,353 people who were in paid employment or self-employed.
The study cohort was divided into:
The researchers adjusted their analyses for several factors like age, sex, ethnicity, education, socio-economic status, diet, smoking, body mass index, sleep duration, and chronotype that could alter the risk of developing AF.
The researchers, therefore, adjusted these risk factors.
The following were observed in the study:
The study further revealed two more interesting findings.
Avoid Caffeine Close to Bedtime
Caffeine inhibits your body’s ability to feel sleepy. So, avoid food and drink containing caffeine at least 4 hours before your bedtime.
Maintain A Sleep-Conducive Environment In Your Bedroom
Light exposure can activate all the processes in your body associated with wakefulness, making it difficult for you to fall asleep. Use blackout curtains or blinds that can help block the light entry.
Shift work has been associated with an increased risk of metabolic disorders. Limit sugar intake and increase protein intake. Eating small, frequent meals can also help maintain your metabolic health.
Avoid daytime exercising when on shift work, as it can promote wakefulness. But, make sure to adopt a consistent exercise routine as this can help lower the risk for heart disease.
CYP1A2 codes for the production of 21-hydroxylase, which is part of the cytochrome P450 family of enzymes.
This family of enzymes is quite important as it is a part of many processes, that include breaking down drugs, production of cholesterol, hormones, and fats.
The adrenal glands secrete the enzyme, 21-hydroxylase.
Situated on the top of the kidneys, the adrenal glands also produce hormones like epinephrine and cortisol.
Incidentally, 21-hydroxylase plays a role in the production of cortisol and another hormone named aldosterone.
Cortisol is a stress-related hormone and plays a role in protecting the body from stress, as well as reducing inflammation.
Cortisol also helps in maintaining blood sugar levels.
Aldosterone, also known as the salt-retaining hormone, regulates the amount of salt retained in the kidneys.
This has a direct consequence on blood pressure, as well as fluid retention in the body.
There seems to be an interesting trend in the activity of the CYP1A2 gene and caffeine intake.
The consequence of being a “rapid” or a “slow” metabolizer of caffeine can have effects on an individual’s cardiovascular health.
This article explains the wide-ranging effects of this gene, caffeine intake, cardiovascular health, hypertension, and even pregnancy!
In the body, CYP1A2 accounts for around 95% of caffeine metabolism.
The enzyme efficiency varies between individuals.
A homozygous, that is, AA genotype represents individuals that can rapidly metabolize caffeine.
Some individuals have a mutation in this locus and thus have the AC genotype.
These individuals are “slow” caffeine metabolizers.
There seems to be a link between CYP1A2, the incidence of myocardial infarction (MI), and coffee intake.
The positive effects of coffee include lowering a feeling of tiredness and increasing alertness; however, it can also narrow the blood vessels.
This increases blood pressure and could lead to cardiovascular disease risk.
Rapid metabolizers of coffee have the AA genotype and may unravel the protective effects of caffeine in the system.
However, the individuals that are slow metabolizers have a higher risk of MI.
This suggests that the intake of caffeine has some role in this association.
Yet another study associated DNA damage due to mutagens found in tobacco smoking could contribute to MI.
The study included participants who were genotyped at the CYP1A2 gene.
They found a group of ‘highly inducible’ subjects that had a CYP1A2*1A/*1A genotype.
These individuals have a greater risk for MI, independent of their smoking status.
This also means that there is some intermediary substrate that the CYP1A2 gene decomposes, and if this gene has a mutation, it could lead to a higher risk of MI.
In a study conducted on 2014 people, people who were slow metabolizers of caffeine (C variant) and who consumed more than 3 cups of coffee per day had an association with increased risk for myocardial infarction.
In a similar study on 513 people, increased intake of coffee, among slow metabolizers, has an association with an increased risk for hypertension.
Smoking is capable of inducing the CYP1A2 enzyme. Smokers exhibit increased activity of this enzyme.
In a study conducted on 16719 people, people with the A variant, and who were non-smokers, were 35% less likely to be hypertensive than people with the C variant.
In the same study, CYP1A2 activity had a negative association with blood pressure among ex-smokers.
But for people who were still smoking, the same gene expressed an association with increased blood pressure.
The gene CYP1A2 also has an association with caffeine metabolism and smoking.
A study aimed to tie these concepts together to find the relationship between this gene and blood pressure (BP).
The main measurements of the study were caffeine intake, BP, and the activity of the CYP1A2 gene.
In non-smokers, CYP1A2 variants (having either a CC, AC, or AA genotype) were associated with hypertension.
Higher CYP1A2 activity was associated with people who quit smoking and had lower BP compared to the rest but had a higher BP while smoking.
In non-smokers, CYP1A2 variants (having either a CC, AC or AA genotype) were associated with high caffeine intake, and also had low BP.
This means that caffeine intake plays some role in protecting non-smokers from hypertension, by inducing CYP1A2.
The intake of caffeine during pregnancy has an association with the risk of reduced fetal growth.
High caffeine intake shows a link to decreased birth weight.
The babies are also at risk of being too small during the time of pregnancy.
This was also observed in a study conducted on 415 Japanese women.
Women with the A variant who drank more than 300 mg of coffee per day were shown to be at an increased risk of giving birth to babies with low birth weight.
In conclusion, there are a lot of effects that the CYP1A2 gene has on the body. Many studies, as noted above, seem to link the activity of this gene to caffeine intake.
A variant at the CYP1A2 gene can determine whether an individual is a fast or slow metabolizer of caffeine, and this has some effect on the blood pressure and cardiovascular health of an individual.
The gene also plays a role in regulating an infant’s weight during the pregnancy of a woman, and this has a link with caffeine intake. It is thus interesting to analyze the effect of the variants of the CYP1A2 gene on an individual, based on their caffeine intake.
Upload it to Xcode Life to know about your CYP1A2 caffeine metabolism and caffeine sensitivity variants.
Caffeine acts as a stimulant of the Central Nervous System (CNS), causing increased alertness.
It is the world's most widely consumed legal psychoactive drug.
Caffeine offers a range of benefits from something as small as over an afternoon slump to reducing the risk of some serious health conditions like heart diseases.
Some common food sources of caffeine include:
Up to 400 milligrams of caffeine appears to be safe for most healthy adults.
Anything exceeding that can be harmful to the body.
The effect of caffeine on various systems of the body are as follows:
Caffeine is a stimulant and causes mental alertness once it reaches the brain.
It is a common ingredient in medications that are meant to treat drowsiness, migraines, and headaches.
Caffeine stimulates the production of stomach acid and can cause heartburn, acid reflux, or stomach upset.
Excess caffeine is stored in the liver, which exits through urine.
Hence, drinking excessive coffee or tea increases the urge for urination.
Caffeine intake increases adrenaline production.
This, in turn, increases your blood pressure for some time.
When consumed in excess quantities, caffeine can lead to irregular heartbeat and breathing.
Excess caffeine interferes with the absorption and utilization of calcium.
Reduced calcium levels in the body can lead to osteoporosis.
Muscle twitching is often a visible symptom of excess caffeine consumption.
A little caffeine during pregnancy appears to be safe in most cases.
However, it is important to note that caffeine can cross the placental barrier, and therefore, can affect the fetus.
It can increase the fetus's heart rate and, in some cases, may even lead to a miscarriage.
CYP1A2 codes for a protein that belongs to the Cytochrome P450 family.
This protein is involved in the breakdown of stimulants, drugs, nutrients, and other xenobiotics.
The CYP1A2 gene regulates the synthesis of the enzyme, and small variations in this gene are associated with the efficiency of caffeine metabolism.
Some people are genetically predisposed to produce very little of CYP1A2 enzyme while others may generate a sufficient amount.
Approximately 10% of the population is found to be rapid caffeine metabolizers, showing a high tolerance to caffeine.
This enzyme is also essential for removing toxic chemicals from our body and processing hormones and other products of metabolism.
Both increased and decreased enzyme activity have been linked to an increased risk of cancer.
It is a significant protein family in the human body, as it majorly decides how an individual responds to drugs and nutrients.
Variations in this gene broadly divide people into two groups of metabolizers:
In particular, two Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNP) are found to influence caffeine metabolism:
The haplotype CYP1A2*1F is associated with this variation.[table “100” not found /]
Individuals who have the TT genotype in this specific polymorphism of the CYP1A2 gene may be fast metabolizers of caffeine.
A study conducted on 553 individuals found that people with this genotype had a 70% reduction in the risk of a heart attack on increased consumption of caffeine.[table “101” not found /]
People of certain genetic types have a genetic predisposition to drink more cups of coffee.
Identification of this tendency will help in moderating coffee consumption, taking into account the individual's caffeine metabolism status.
Genetic tests can help identify such parameters.
After all, it would be good to know if you are prone to guzzling down a little too much, especially when your caffeine sensitivity scale is tipped at the wrong end.
Caffeine tolerance in an individual is gene deep.
The enzyme CYP1A2 is responsible for metabolizing caffeine in the body and determines whether the individual is a slow or a fast caffeine metabolizer.
Fast metabolizers of caffeine may have a high caffeine tolerance.
Such people have two copies of the fast variant.
Some people have one slow and one fast copy of the variant and are said to be moderately tolerant to caffeine.
However, those individuals who have two copies of the slow variant are slow metabolizers of caffeine and are said to be poorly tolerant of it.
Resting metabolic rate describes the rate at which you burn calories at rest.
A lot of studies vouch for caffeine boosting the RMR.
Early research also suggests that caffeine supports fat-burning during exercise.
This increase in fat-burn is what majorly contributes to the increase in metabolism.
Initially, the increase in metabolism upon caffeine consumption can be evident.
However, this effect can diminish in long-term coffee drinkers due to the developed tolerance.
If you're primarily interested in coffee for the sake of fat loss, it may be wise not to consume it excessively and end up making your body more tolerant of caffeine.
Caffeine is a component in many plants, including coffee and tea.
The primary purpose of it is to act as a toxin to defend the plants against herbivores.
Caffeine in limited quantities is beneficial to our health, but in excessive amounts, harmful.
The effects of excessive caffeine intake (more than 4-5 cups of strong tea or coffee) include:
Excessive caffeine consumption does come with a set of undesirable effects.
During such times, the following remedies can help flush out caffeine from the system:
If nothing else works, just wait! The half-life of caffeine in the human body is roughly 4-6 hours, which means caffeine naturally starts to breakdown after that time.
If your body is dependent on caffeine, eliminating caffeine from your diet may cause symptoms of withdrawal.
This occurs typically 12-24 hours after stopping caffeine.
Upload your DNA raw data to Xcode Life. Our Gene Nutrition Report analyses caffeine sensitivity and metabolism, gluten sensitivity, lactose intolerance, vitamin needs, and 33 more such categories.
It is hard to believe that caffeine, a stimulant that holds popularity in battling fatigue and improving creativity, can do any harm.
Caffeine sensitivity is a term that describes the efficiency of the human body to process caffeine and to metabolize it.
We have all heard of co-workers who drink 6 cups of coffee, the recreational drink for nearly 60% of Americans, every day, and friends who guzzle a cup an hour before bedtime.
Yet there are some of us who feel jittery, anxious, or even restless after a single cup.
So, is caffeine a scourge, a tonic, or a mix of both?
For starters, coffee has a few benefits.
A large research study showed that Americans get more antioxidants from coffee than from any other dietary source.
Other studies have shown that there are several nutrients in a cup of brewed coffee, like Magnesium, Niacin, and Potassium, depending on the soil nutrients and the type of processing.
Adenosine is an organic compound that inhibits arousal and promotes sleepiness upon binding to its receptor.
Caffeine has a structure similar to adenosine and works as an adenosine receptor antagonist.
It competes with adenosine to bind to the adenosine receptor.
This process promotes wakefulness.
Though this can affect the quality of sleep among certain people, it could help in situations like driving at night or averting jet lag, where mental alertness is critical.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 300 milligrams of caffeine are consumed every day by the average American. The Mayo Clinic states that drinking up to 400 milligrams per day is safe, which is approximately 4 cups.
A good cup of coffee is the most popular caffeine delivery mechanism that comes with a few health benefits like being a good source of antioxidants, warding off liver disease, and protecting against Parkinson’s.
The health risks and benefits have been understood, over the years, however, caffeine and metabolism, or the way in which our body processes the chemical, varies on several key factors.
|Beverage||Caffeine content (mg)|
|Coffee||8 oz cup - 95 mg|
|Espresso||1 oz shot - 63 mg|
|Green tea||8 oz cup - 28 mg|
|Black tea||8 oz cup - 26 mg|
|Energy drinks||8 oz cup - 91 mg|
|Sodas (Cola)||16 oz cans - 49 mg|
|Coffee liqueur||1.5 oz shot - 14 mg|
|Dark chocolate||1 oz square 24 mg|
Caffeine, an alkaloid, is also known as 1,3,7-trimetilksantin.
It is acidic in its pure crystalline form and is found in over 60 plant species.
The enzyme CYP1A2 is responsible for the metabolism of caffeine in the liver.
Due to potentially ineffective CYP1A2 enzyme activity, some people can experience issues like caffeine jitters after 2-3 cups of coffee per day.
Such slower metabolizers of caffeine may experience problems with blood pressure, headaches, etc.
The CYP1A2 gene regulates the synthesis of the enzyme, and small variations in this gene have an association with the efficiency of caffeine metabolism.
Some people have a genetic predisposition to produce very little of CYP1A2 enzyme while others may produce a large amount.
Approximately 10% of the population is found to be rapid caffeine metabolizers, which rates them high on caffeine sensitivity.
Approximately 10% of the population are found to be rapid caffeine metabolizers, which rates them high on caffeine sensitivity.
The polymorphism associated with caffeine metabolism is rs762551.
Studies have shown that individuals with AC or CC genotypes are slow metabolizers of caffeine.
These individuals have a high caffeine sensitivity.
They tend to have a slightly increased risk for heart attack upon consumption of more than 2 cups of coffee every day.
Individuals who have the A.A. genotype in the specific polymorphism of the CYP1A2 gene may be fast metabolizers.
These individuals have a low caffeine sensitivity.
A study conducted on 553 individuals found that people with this genotype had a 70% reduction in the risk of a heart attack on increased caffeine consumption.
The polymorphism in the CYP1A2 gene is well studied and is useful to determine the caffeine metabolism status.
This, in turn, can shine some light on the tendency to consume caffeine.
The 23andMe reports provide caffeine metabolizer status.
There are other well known 23andMe third-party tools, like Xcode Life, that can provide a better understanding.
Upload your 23andMe raw data to find out your caffeine metabolism status.[table “44” not found /]
23andMe DNA raw data is the genetic information obtained after a genetic test, and it is usually provided as a text file.
This information can be downloaded after utilizing the 23andMe login provided to all 23andMe customers.
There is a wealth of information provided by ancestry DNA that can be used to identify a number of health and nutrition-based traits.
Use your ancestry DNA login to download your Ancestry DNA raw data.
23andme vs. AncestryDNA vs. Xcode Life pertaining to caffeine metabolizer status[table “45” not found /]
People of certain genetic types tend to have a genetic predisposition to drink more cups of coffee.
Identification of this tendency will help in moderating coffee consumption, taking into account the caffeine metabolism status of the individual.
Genetic tests can help identify such parameters.
After all, it would be good to know if you are prone to guzzling down a little too much, especially when your caffeine sensitivity scale is tipped at the wrong end.
I am your heart. I work really hard to keep you alive. Every minute I pump out 5 litres of oxygen rich blood to every cell in your body so you can think, move, speak, work and live. In return all I ask is that you keep me healthy. Not many people around the world do that. In fact approximately 17.3 million people die every year because heart disease. By 2020, it will be the leading cause of death around the world.
1. Eat Healthy
Look towards healthy foods that help lower cholesterol. Eat vegetables and fish that have lots of good fats. Don’t eat as much red meat, choose lean meats instead. Eat a serving of nuts (walnuts, almonds etc.) every day. Drink less of carbonated beverages and drink natural fruit juices without added sugar. Get 4-5 servings of fresh vegetables. Feeling like having a snack? Skip the chips and salty foods and munch on some fresh carrots instead. Search and build your own book of healthy recipes for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Trust me, your heart will thank you for it.
With more of us having less active jobs than ever before, a lack of exercise is a big risk factor for heart disease. On the bright side, it also means that exercising regularly in addition to eating healthy is one of the fastest ways to reduce your risk! Research shows that getting just 30 minutes of aerobic exercise five times a week can significantly reduce the risk of a heart attack. Can’t spare 30 minutes at a stretch? Sneak in three 10 minute sessions of brisk walking or exercise whenever you get a break.
3. Get adequate rest
We’re living in a 24X7 world. The computers and mobile devices that allow us to connect to the internet and each other whenever we want have also taken away proper sleep habits. We sacrifice sleep for work and for leisure without realizing the effect that it has on our body. Scientific studies have shown that people who get less than 6 hours of sleep a night have a higher chance of getting high blood pressure and high cholesterol both of which contribute to heart disease. So put down that phone, turn off the TV and get some sleep.
4. Quit smoking
Smoking can double the risk of you having a heart attack. Smoking damages the blood vessels and increases the risk of them being blocked leading to higher chances of a heart attack. Women who take birth control pills and smoke are particularly at a higher risk to develop heart disease. Even smoking for a brief period of time damages the heart. Nicotine in cigarettes or chewing tobacco reduces the oxygen supply to the heart and increases blood pressure. So if you smoke, make a healthy start and quit today.
5. Drink alcohol in strict moderation
If you drink alcohol, be sure to strictly control how much you drink. Drinking alcohol excessively has been shown to increase the risk for hypertension, obesity and heart disease. Alcohol intake above moderate levels also increases cholesterol levels leading to formation of plaques and blood vessel blockage.
6. Practice Yoga and Meditation
Among other benefits, yoga and meditation have been shown to significantly reduce stress and have positive effects on mind and body. Yoga comprises of physical exercises as well as training to control the breath. In combination with meditation, yoga can improves many physiological functions and be extremely effective as a preventive mechanism for heart attacks.
7. Know your numbers and your risk factors
Lastly, always be aware of your health status. According to Barry A Franklin PhD Director of Preventive Cardiology and Rehabilitation at William Beaumont Hospital in Michigan USA and an American Heart Association Volunteer “Regular cardiovascular screening is important because it helps you detect risk factors in their earliest stages”. See your physician regularly and get your cholesterol and triglyceride levels checked. Your genes can play a role in whether you are more likely to get heart disease. Know your family history and whether that puts you at an increased risk. In addition, an advanced program like Xcode’s Lifelong Wellness can analyze your genes for health risks and metabolic traits and give you a personalized nutrition and fitness plan that will put you on the on the path to a healthier lifestyle.