Adherence to a certain hour of sleep may be one of the easiest ways to reduce your risk of developing heart disease in the future. Will you be able to fall asleep every day in the specific time window identified by this new study?
What time do you usually go to bed? The answer to this question may have significance beyond your level of fatigue on one day or another, and it may be important for maintaining your heart health. A new study finds that falling asleep between 22:00 and 23:00 in the evening is associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease. The findings of the study were published in the European Heart Journal – Digital Health.
The researchers found, among other things, that those who went to bed later – at midnight or later – had a 25 percent higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, compared to their peers who went to bed between ten and eleven at night. For those who are somewhere in the middle, and tend to fall asleep between 11pm and midnight, the risk of heart disease was 12 percent higher compared to those who fall asleep between ten and eleven.
Another interesting finding of the researchers was that the risk also lurks for those who fall asleep earlier, and stood at 24 percent more risk for those who fall asleep before 22:00. Which means that if you want to harness your bedtime for the benefit of your future heart health, you have a very limited and specific time window to fall asleep in every night.
“Our research suggests that optimal sleep time is at a specific point in the body’s 24-hour cycle, and any deviation from this schedule can have a negative impact on health. The most dangerous bedtime is after midnight, because it reduces the chance of experiencing morning light, the exposure to which is what “resets” the body’s clock, “said Dr. David Flens of Exeter University, who authored this study.
“Although the findings do not prove causality, sleep time emerges from the study as a possible cardiological risk factor – which stands independently and is not related to other risk factors or other sleep characteristics. “At a low cost, they will succeed in reducing the risk of heart disease in the general public,” the researcher explained.
Not too late, not too early
This study is based on data collected over 7 days on the sleeping, falling asleep and waking habits of more than 88,000 participants, which are included in the database of the UK Banking Project. The data were measured by a measuring instrument worn by the participants on their wrist for the duration of the experiment. In addition, they responded to questionnaires that covered demographic issues, general health, lifestyle, and self-esteem of their physical fitness. In the second phase of the study, the researchers performed health surveillance for several years after collecting the data and re-evaluated their heart health status, with reference to heart disease, heart attacks, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, stroke and ischemic attacks.
After weighing other risk factors such as: smoking, BMI and socioeconomic status, the researchers isolated the sleep factor and calculated how it might be related to the risk of developing cardiovascular disease among participants.
The causal link is stronger in women
As the study author explained, the aim of the study was not to explain the mechanism by which bedtime affects risk, but to determine whether or not there is such a relationship at all. However, there are many studies that have been conducted in the past that have also dealt with the relationship between sleep quality and the risk of heart disease. Science does not yet deeply understand the relationship between the two, however it is estimated that the connection lies in the effect of sleep quality on biological processes such as glucose metabolism, blood pressure and inflammation.
One of the things that has been sharpened in this study is that the association between the time of falling asleep and the risk of heart disease is stronger among women, compared to men. The reason for this difference is also unknown to researchers, but they suspect that hormones are involved. “There may be a gender difference in the way the endocrine system responds to a circadian clock disorder. An alternative explanation may be that the relatively older age of study participants may be a distraction that disrupts results because cardiovascular risk in women tends to increase after menopause and menopause. “There may not really be a difference between men and women in the intensity of the effect of bedtime on their risk of developing heart problems,” Dr. Flens said.