Not getting enough sleep feels different for everyone, but you probably know just what you’re in for when you have to wake up after too-little shut eye. Eyes that feel blurry. Maybe your head feels heavy, or your brain is sluggish. But did you know a lack of sleep – or even sleeping at the wrong times – can affect your heart? Let’s look at what the best bedtime is when it comes to your heart health.
Heart health gets a lot of attention in medical studies, and for good reason. In the U.S, heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women, causing about 659,000 deaths in this country each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Worldwide, that jumps to 18.6 million deaths each year.
A new study about sleep and keeping your heart healthy has created a bit of a buzz. Researchers have long known that getting enough sleep is critical for good health – including maintaining a healthy heart and cardiovascular system. But the new research shows there is an optimal time to sleep, and that getting your z’s during this specific window is linked to better heart health.
What the new study shows. The study, published recently in the European Heart Journal, studied the sleep-onset times of more than 100,000 people. It found that people who fell asleep between 10 and 11 p.m. each night had the lowest number of heart health issues. People who fell asleep earlier than 10 p.m. or later than 11 p.m. had more incidents of cardiovascular disease, the study showed.
Those with the highest number of cardiovascular incidents routinely fell asleep after midnight.
These results suggest that when your body’s circadian rhythms – its natural 24-hour sleep-wake cycle – are disrupted, it can be a factor for increased risk of heart health issues.
Not getting enough z’s has consequences. According to the CDC, most people need about seven hours of sleep each night. But more than one-third of Americans say they don’t hit that mark. While most people have had a few restless nights or a couple too-late nights in a row, consistently falling short on sleep can lead to serious health issues, including cardiovascular problems. Two sleep issues that can hurt your heart health include:
Insomnia: Nearly half of adults in the U.S. have had trouble falling asleep – or staying asleep – at some point. But for when it’s a regular occurrence, this issue can cause high blood pressure and heart disease.
Sleep apnea: Some people can actually stop breathing while sleeping when their airway gets blocked, and it can happen repeatedly during a sleep session. When this happens, it puts people at greater risk for high blood pressure, heart problems and even a stroke.
Tips for getting a better night’s sleep. If you are struggling with insomnia or feel you might have sleep apnea, talk to your doctor. If you have only occasional sleep issues, try these tips for a more restful night:
- Create a regular sleep schedule, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day.
- Make sure natural light is part of your day. Add in a morning or lunchtime walk or outdoor workout.
- Exercise regularly, but avoid doing so right before bedtime.
- A few hours before bedtime, stop eating and drinking for the day.
- Skip alcohol and sugary foods in the evening.