I won’t even get into which team I’ve picked to win this coming Sunday’s Super Bowl (it’s not a shocker), and I won’t pick on what many of you will no doubt be eating and drinking (pizza, beer, chicken wings, dips, chips, wine, and god-knows-what). But I will say is this: try and get a good night’s sleep on Saturday. It may reduce your risk for a heart attack if you’re a die-hard fan of either the New England Patriots or New York Giants.
Earlier this week the Associated Press reported on a study that shows one of the more serious hazards to the excitement that surrounds a sporting event. Heart attacks and other cardiac emergencies doubled in Munich, Germany, when the German soccer team competed in the World Cup matches. The study’s researchers, whose results were presented in the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine this week, blamed not only the emotional stress that accompanies high-energy events, but also the lack of sleep, overeating (or should I say gorging), boozing, and smoking. All of which make for a fine Molotov cocktail that can blow up in your heart—especially if you’re already in the high-risk zone. People in this category include those with high blood pressure or diabetes.
I covered this vicious cycle, which is actually very common on a smaller scale in people’s everyday lives, in my book, Beauty Sleep. The interaction of these lifestyle choices in the body can be disastrous and self-feeding. The moment you let yourself go in front of the buffet table and bar is the moment you set yourself up for a poor night’s sleep (or little sleep if the game has wound you up), which can then come back to haunt you the next day when you crave high-fat, sugary carbs and feel low on energy. So the cycle continues. And if you let this go on ad infinitum, you eventually experience all those negative outcomes: weight gain, chronic exhaustion, and at one extreme, minor depression.
So maybe Super Bowl Sunday isn’t want it’s cracked up to be. It can be the beginning of a bad cycle that has you forgetting any such thing as a New Year’s Resolution (was that a month ago?). And as this new study confirms, it also can be a day of mourning not just for the losing team, but for those whose hearts get too excited and give out.
My advice? In addition to the obvious (duh: sleep well the night before, watch your consumption and emotions), I say lay claim to a very comfy couch to watch the game and nod off as much as you like. This will naturally keep you from continual eating and drinking, too. If you’re going to a big party, good luck. If you feel chest pain, pop an aspirin. But of course, that could be just the indigestion biting you back.