There May Be a ‘Best Bedtime’ for Your Heart

By Steven Reinberg
Health Day reporter

TUESDAY, November 9, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Is there a perfect time to go to bed every night if you want to avoid heart disease?

Apparently it does, says a new study that hitting the sack between 10 p.m. and 11 p.m. may be the perfect time to reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems.

This finding may be worth taking into account, as the researchers also found that going to bed before 10 p.m. or midnight or later can increase the risk of heart disease by as much as 25%. The increased risk can be attributed to the change in the body’s circadian rhythm – its internal clock, the study authors said.

“The circadian system controls daily behavioral and physiological rhythms. The disruption of the circadian rhythm has many implications, leading to decreased cognitive performance and an increased risk of various physical and mental health problems, including cardiovascular disorders,” said principal investigator David Plans. He is a lecturer in organizational neuroscience at the University of Exeter, England.

The brain’s central clock controls the circadian rhythm throughout the body. This central clock is calibrated by exposure to light, especially morning light, which is detected by receptors in the eyes, Plans explained.

“When this morning light is detected, the clock is recalibrated. Therefore, if a person goes to bed very late, they could sleep too much and miss this critical period of morning light,” he explained. “If this happens over an extended period of time, the circadian rhythm will be disrupted. As a result, there will be effects on other behavioral and physiological rhythms, which can be detrimental to health.”

Plans warned, however, that this study could not prove that falling asleep causes heart disease, but it could, if confirmed, be a possible risk factor.

Dr Harly Greenberg, head of the division of pulmonary care, critical care and sleep medicine at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, NY, was not involved in the study but commented on the results. He said: “These findings underscore the importance of the body’s circadian rhythm and add to growing evidence showing increased health risks – including obesity, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and even heart disease. cancer – when our daily schedules are misaligned with our circadian rhythm. “

For the study, Plans and colleagues collected data on more than 88,000 men and women, with an average age of 61, recruited between 2006 and 2010.

Researchers had information on when participants fell asleep and woke up for a week using accelerometers worn on the wrist. Participants also completed questionnaires on lifestyle and health.

Over an average follow-up of almost six years, 3.6% of participants developed heart disease. Most of those who developed it fell asleep at midnight or later. People least likely to develop cardiovascular disease fell asleep between 10 p.m. and 10:59 p.m., the researchers found.

Those who fell asleep between 11 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. had a 12% higher risk, and those who went to bed before 10 p.m. had a 24% higher risk.

After taking gender into account, the researchers found that the risk was highest in women. In men, falling asleep before 10 p.m. remained significant, the researchers noted.

“We cannot give advice to the public based on our new findings because we have only identified one association,” Plans said. “More generally, however, there is good evidence that morning light resets your circadian rhythm, and therefore it may be beneficial to practice good sleep hygiene,” he advised.

“Go to sleep at a reasonable time and wake up early enough to go out in the morning, avoid blue light late at night, no caffeine at the end of the day, avoid naps after around 4 p.m., use the bedroom only for sleeping, and you only go to bed when you feel ready to sleep. But that’s advice based on the broader evidence from collective research, ”Plans said.

Dr Gregg Fonarow, director of the Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center in Los Angeles, said: “These findings provide potential information on how the timing of falling asleep in relation to circadian rhythms may influence cardiovascular health. However, more studies are needed, and it remains to be seen whether changing the time of day they fall asleep increases or reduces the risk of a cardiovascular event. “

The report was released on November 9 in the European Heart Journal – Digital Health.

More information

To learn more about sleep and heart health, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

SOURCES: David Plans, PhD, senior lecturer, organizational neuroscience, University of Exeter, UK; Gregg Fonarow, MD, director, Ahmanson-UCLA Cardiomyopathy Center, Los Angeles; Harly Greenberg, MD, chief, division of pulmonary care, critical care and sleep medicine, Northwell Health, New Hyde Park, NY; European Heart Journal – Digital Health, November 9, 2021

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