Can going to bed at 10 p.m. reduce heart disease risk?

A new study published this month in the European Heart Journal – Digital Health found that going to sleep between 10pm and 11pm is ideal for heart health.

People who fell asleep after midnight had a 25% increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Those who fell asleep before 10:00 p.m. had a 24% increase in cardiovascular disease. And those who fell asleep between 11 p.m. and midnight had a 12% increase in heart disease.

The study looked at more than 88,000 people from 2006 to 2010 and was then followed up about five years later.

However, this study can be misinterpreted, said Dr. Stanley Wang, medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Heart Hospital of Austin.

“There are many temptations to turn it the wrong way,” he said. “It’s not that if you go to sleep between 10-11 you automatically have a lower risk of heart disease.”

He compares it to all wealthy people going to bed between 10pm and 11pm, and if you go to sleep at that time, you will automatically get rich.

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Instead, it is about the healthy patterns that people show when they go to sleep at that hour. People who go to sleep early may have difficulty staying up because they slept poorly the night before. The people who go to sleep afterward may have trouble falling asleep or get enough sleep.

Wang said several studies have shown a link between sleep quality and heart disease. We know that sleep apnea doubles the risk of congestive heart failure and atrial fibrillation in particular, and triples the risk of heart disease in general. People with restless legs syndrome and insomnia have higher blood pressure, he said.

We’ve talked about how diet has a huge impact on heart disease, but now we’re talking about sleep has a huge impact, Wang said.

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Dr.  Stanley Wang is a cardiologist and medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Heart Hospital of Austin.

Dr. Stanley Wang is a cardiologist and medical director of the Sleep Disorders Center at the Heart Hospital of Austin.

Consistency is important: go to sleep at the same time every day, get up at the same time every day, eat at the same time every day. These behaviors determine your internal circadian rhythm, the body clock that naturally tells you when to be awake and when to sleep.

Getting out of this circadian rhythm is stressful on the body, Wang said. That’s why, when we have things like daylight saving time, there is an increase in heart attacks and car wrecks, Wang said. It’s stressful on our body.

People who aren’t getting enough sleep could make other decisions that affect their health, such as alcohol to help you fall asleep or caffeine and sugar to help you stay awake, Wang said.

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Tips for a better sleep

Establish a consistent sleep schedule. Go to bed and get up at the same time each day.

Wake up to the light. Your body needs light in the morning and throughout the day to adjust its internal clock so that it is awake during these hours. Choose an office with lots of light, not a dimly lit office. Darkening tones make it difficult to wake up in the morning.

Go to sleep in the dark. Darken rooms at night. Avoid using devices with high exposure to light such as cell phones, televisions, computers, and tablets at night. If you have to, use the night setting, although there isn’t a full scientific study to suggest such settings are better than the normal setting, Wang said. It’s just a theory.

Get ready for bed. Avoid excessive alcohol, caffeine, and high-intensity exercise two to three hours before bed.

Avoid a multipurpose bedroom. If you teach your brain that the bedroom is also your office or entertainment center, it will be hard to sleep there. Keep televisions, phones, and computers out of the bedroom.

Limit distractions in the bedroom. That can mean pets too.

Talk to a doctor if you wake up frequently to use the toilet or because of hormonal changes (night sweats) or if someone tells you that you are snoring, stop breathing or wake up gasping at night.

This article originally appeared on Austin American-Statesman: Study: 10 PM Bedtime Great for Heart Health, But There’s More Behind It

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