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Regular, restful shut-eye is key for keeping yourself healthy. Bad sleep, insomnia and nights of tossing and turning can wreak havoc on your focus, your energy levels and your well-being. But now, experts are saying you have to head to bed at just the right time – or else your heart health might suffer. And whether you’re a night owl or an early bird, you’re probably going to want to switch up your usual sleep schedule to lower your risk for cardiovascular disease.
According to new research, the perfect bedtime for better heart health is between 10 and 11 PM. Find out what, exactly, it is about this particular hour that can reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease and keep you healthier.
Why this one-hour window matters so much
A study published in European Heart Journal in November 2021 suggests that your nightly bedtime can potentially influence your risk for heart disease. Researchers examined over 88,000 participants’ sleep data, which was collected from 2006 to 2010 via wrist accelerometers, along with questionnaires that included lifestyle, health and other personal assessments. They then followed up with the participants to see if they were diagnosed with cardiovascular disease (which researchers defined as a heart attack, heart failure, chronic ischaemic heart disease, stroke or a transient ischaemic attack).
Researchers found that 3.6 percent of the study’s participants developed heart disease within about 5 years since their data was collected. What did all of those particular participants have in common? Their sleep schedules.
While the participants who developed cardiovascular disease didn’t fit into a single sleep trend – meaning they didn’t all head to bed too early or too late at night – they went to bed either before 10 PM or after 11 PM. And the participants who had the lowest risk of developing heart disease? Well, they all happened to have a bedtime between 10 and 10:59 PM.
Researchers suspect that this hour may have a positive impact on your cardiovascular health because it doesn’t disrupt your body’s natural circadian rhythms. Conversely, heading to sleep before your body is naturally ready for rest or staying up late can mess with those natural rhythms, which may play a role in changes – including potentially harmful changes – to your heart health.
Going to bed too early or too late just might increase your odds of developing heart disease
Interestingly, while researchers were able to pinpoint the time frame between 10 and 10:59 PM as potentially beneficial for your heart, they also found that participants’ risk for heart disease increased with earlier and later bedtimes. And just how early or late you head to bed may potentially have a significant impact.
The risk for heart disease rose depending on just how much earlier or later participants headed to bed compared to the “magic” hour of 10 to 10:59 PM. Those who went to bed before 10 PM had a 24 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease; those who hit the hay between 11 and 11:59 PM had just a 12 percent higher risk. Late sleepers who went to bed at midnight or later were the most at-risk, with a 25 percent increase.
So, if you’re hoping to keep your heart healthy for years to come, you might want to adjust your nightly schedule. Heading to bed between 10 and 11 PM could help, especially if done in combination with other heart-healthy behaviors that can influence your risk for cardiovascular disease.
Keep reading to learn more about working towards a healthy heart: