Sleep is important for our overall health — it supports healthy brain function and important aspects of our metabolism, like controlling appetite and blood sugar.
Now, you know the drill: 7-9 hours of sleep, every night. However, most of us are *chronically* sleep-deprived — a bit extra during the pandemic, as it turns out.
But, does the time we go to sleep has any impact on our health?
Well, bad news folks, it actually might be very important. A recent European study suggests there may be an optimal time to fall asleep – at least when it comes to cardiovascular health. The sleeping sweet spot, per science*, is between 10 pm and 11 pm.
Going to bed during this period is associated with a lower risk of developing heart disease in comparison with earlier or later bedtimes, according to a study published in the European Heart Journal — Digital Health.
My science comm colleague Jelena Kalinić wrote about this study on her blog Quantum of Science (check it out!) in which she reports that the study looked at 88,026 individuals in Britain between 2006 and 2010 — around 58% were female and the average age was 61.
The researchers also looked at factors such as smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, and whether participants self-identified as early birds or night owls.
The relationship between bedtime and heart disease has been relatively underexplored territory, but “growing evidence suggests that poor sleep health is associated with cardiovascular risk.”
The study also found that the risk may be more pronounced in women, although, more research is needed.
The authors of the recent study said the gender difference was a “surprising finding” of the research and could be linked to the hormonal impact of menopause or endocrine differences between genders.
Reminder: Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women — in the United States and Serbia.
Back to the UK bedtime research.
Data on falling-asleep and waking-up times were collected over seven days using the wrist-worn accelerometers. The results?
25% higher risk of cardiovascular disease among those who fell asleep at midnight or later,
24% raised the risk of falling asleep before 10 pm.
So, after taking into account various demographic, habitual, and socioeconomic information, the researchers found participants who fell asleep between 10 pm and 10:59 pm had a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than those who dozed off earlier or later.
The authors said they are aware of the study’s limitations and that further research, with larger numbers of participants, is needed to examine their findings.
However, the study offers support to the importance of sleep hygiene on our overall health. We can’t ghost that fact.
“People often assume that cardiovascular disease is a consequence of physiological influences,” David Plans, co-author of the study, said. “Whereas actually, the behavioral influence on the cardiovascular system as a result of circadian disruption is enormous.
Stats for nerds: