November 17, 2021 — 12:07 PM
It’s no secret that quality sleep is an integral part of our overall well-being, but the more we come to know about sleep, the more we learn about how it truly affects the body. And according to a new study published in European Heart Journal–Digital Health, the heart is no exception. Here’s what researchers discovered when studying how bedtimes affect heart health.
Studying bedtimes & heart health.
For this study, researchers wanted to better understand the connection between sleep timing and heart disease. To do this, they analyzed existing sleep data from just over 88,000 adults in the U.K.
The participants’ sleep onset (when they fell asleep) and wake-up times were collected over a seven-day period using a device worn on their wrists called an accelerometer.
The researchers also completed various assessments and questionnaires to record things like demographics, health, and lifestyle factors. After a follow-up period of 5.7 years on average, they revisited the participants looking for heart-disease-related diagnoses, such as heart attack, stroke, heart failure, etc.
What the researchers found.
In this study, there was a bedtime associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease: between 10 and 11 p.m. Those who went to bed at or after midnight were most likely to develop heart disease, and that was after accounting for things like age, sex, sleep duration, and even sleep chronotype.
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Specifically, going to bed at midnight or later was associated with a 25% higher risk of heart disease, and going to bed before 10 p.m. was associated with a 24% greater chance of heart disease. These associations were also stronger in women, the study authors report.
All that said, it’s important to note these findings are an example of correlation and not necessarily causation. As study author David Plans, Ph.D., explains in a news release, “While we cannot conclude causation from our study, the results suggest that early or late bedtimes may be more likely to disrupt the body clock, with adverse consequences for cardiovascular health.”
This research highlights yet another reason sleep is so important, and why it’s a good idea to keep your circadian rhythm in check.
As Plans notes, “Our study indicates that the optimum time to go to sleep is at a specific point in the body’s 24-hour cycle and deviations may be detrimental to health,” adding that staying up late reduces your likelihood of seeing morning light, “which resets the body clock.”
So, whether you want to look out for your heart health or just get your sleep schedule back on track, this research indicates sometime between 10 and 11 p.m. might just be the best time to hit the hay.