Your Bed Time May Determine The Health of Your Heart

Blog Health Your Bed Time May Determine The Health of Your Heart

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3.11.2022 0 comments

What time do YOU go to bed every night?

Are you a “night owl” who doesn’t get to sleep until midnight (or later), or do you prefer to hit the hay early so you can get a full night of rest and an early start to your day?

Most people tend to fall under one of four “sleep chronotypes” [1]:

  • Dolphins, which are sensitive to noise and light, and thus have a hard time falling asleep on any schedule.

  • Wolves, which have trouble waking up in the morning and tend to be at their most energetic around both noon and 6 PM. They typically stay up later at night and sleep later in the day.

  • Bears, which tend to fall asleep and wake up more easily according to the rise and fall of the sun. They’re more productive first thing in the morning, but typically experience a mid-afternoon “slump” around 2-4 PM.

  • Lions, which are early risers (around or before dawn) but typically wind down in the evening to fall asleep around 9 or 10 PM.

According to a study conducted in late 2021 [2], the “lion” and “bear” chronotypes are more likely to have a healthier heart simply because of the time they fall asleep at night.

The study, run by a team of researchers at the University of Exeter, examined data from over 88,000 individuals between 2006 and 2010. Participants between the ages of 43 and 79 were monitored and their sleep habits analyzed, with a wide range of data collected, including:

  • Sleep onset and wake-up time

  • Demographic

  • Health and lifestyle

  • Physical assessments

The participants were then monitored for the onset of a new cardiovascular disease diagnosis, including stroke, heart attack, heart failure, transient ischemic attack, and chronic ischemic heart disease. After nearly 6 years, more than 3,100 of the patients developed some form of cardiovascular condition.

Interestingly enough, people who fell asleep after midnight had the highest incidences of cardiovascular disease. On the other hand, incidences were lowest among people who fell asleep during a very specific window: 10:00 to 10:59 PM.

That’s right, people who fell asleep after midnight had a 25% HIGHER chance of cardiovascular disease than those who fell asleep shortly after 10 PM. Among the people who fell asleep before 10 PM, the rates of cardiovascular disease were 24% higher than those who fell asleep between 10 and 11 PM, particularly among women.

The study’s lead author had a fascinating take on why sleeping at such specific times might positively or negatively effect your health. Specifically, it involved the body’s 24-hour circadian rhythm (sleep cycle), and how those who fell asleep before or after the “ideal time” could be unknowingly impairing their health. As for why those falling asleep after midnight were at the greatest risk, the study stated that was “potentially because it may reduce the likelihood of seeing morning light, which resets the body clock.”

The scientists summed up by saying, “While the findings do not show causality, sleep timing has emerged as a potential cardiac risk factor -- independent of other risk factors and sleep characteristics. If our findings are confirmed in other studies, sleep timing and basic sleep hygiene could be a low-cost public health target for lowering risk of heart disease."

How cool is that? Simply adjusting the time you go to sleep could have a huge impact on your health, lowering cardiovascular disease risk and potentially increasing your lifespan. Talk about a small change with BIG results!

Yes, I absolutely understand that changing your existing sleep schedule is no easy task. You’ve spent years “training” your body to fall asleep and wake up in a certain way, and your sleep chronotype will affect just how difficult it is for you to get to sleep at night.

But it is worth the effort invested! If you can alter your sleep schedule so that you fall asleep between the “golden hour” of 10 and 11 PM, you may drastically reduce your risk of heart disease.

Here are some simple yet highly effective tips to change your sleep schedule:

  • Follow the exact same pattern of preparing for bed every night.

  • Get to bed and wake up at the same time every night, even on the weekends.

  • Don’t give up just because you’re having a hard time falling asleep. Give your body time to adapt to the new pattern.

  • Turn off your phone, TV, and any blue light-generating devices 1-2 hours before bed.

  • Stick with soft lighting and relaxing activities like puzzles, reading, or listening to music.

  • Do not sleep in or take midday naps, no matter how tired you feel.

  • Exercise during the day, but keep your evenings relaxing and calm.

  • Avoid snacking or drinking alcohol in the evening.

  • Have a light dinner at least 3 hours before bedtime.

  • Consider light therapy or melatonin if you’re having a hard time sleeping.

It may not be easy to shift your sleep schedule to this “ideal time”, but it’s well worth it to protect your heart!





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