The time we go to sleep matters when it comes to heart health

The time we go to sleep matters when it comes to heart health

Too often, our bedtime is dictated to us. Maybe workdays begin long before the sun rises, requiring our heads to hit the pillow when everyone else’s night is just beginning. Or perhaps we’ve got schoolwork or papers from the office that keep our brains churning into the wee hours.

Like so much in life, there apparently is a sweet spot for the best time from a health standpoint to get to bed.

British researchers tapped a giant health databank and accelerometers worn by more than 88,000 participants and discovered our bedtime appears to influence our risk of heart disease.

Getting to sleep between 10 and 11 p.m., scientists say, appears to be the best time to ensure cardiovascular health. Getting to bed too late or too early appeared equally as bad. The study found an identical 25% increase risk of heart trouble for people whose bedtime fell before 10 p.m. or after midnight, compared with that 10 to 11 time slot.

A bedtime between 11 p.m. and midnight appears to carry a somewhat lowered increased risk — about 12%.

All this is related to our circadian rhythm. The body’s cells are finely tuned to the rotation of our planet. Things like blood pressure and hormone release differ depending on the time of day. Throwing this rhythm out of kilter has physical consequences, causing, for example, inflammation and glucose dysregulation. A disrupted circadian rhythm is why we suffer from jet lag.

This bedtime effect seems to be more pronounced in women. And scientists aren’t exactly sure why. They think it could come down to a difference in how the male and female endocrine systems work.

So, don’t stay up late or get to bed too early. Like Goldilocks, try to get it just right.

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