Falling asleep at this time may be safest for your heart, new study shows

The time you go to bed can affect your risk for heart disease. In fact, researchers say there’s a heart health sweet spot to falling asleep: from 10pm to 11pm

An analysis of data from more than 88,000 adults who were followed for about six years found a 12 percent higher risk for those who dropped out between 11 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. and a 25 percent higher risk for cardiovascular disease Illnesses in people who fell asleep at midnight or later. Falling asleep before 10 p.m. was associated with a 24 percent increased risk, according to a report published Monday in the European Heart Journal – Digital Health.

“The body has an internal 24-hour clock called a circadian rhythm that helps regulate physical and mental function,” a study co-author, David Plans, a neuroscientist and experimental psychologist who is senior lecturer in organizational neuroscience at the University of Exeter in the UK said in a statement. “Although we cannot conclude causality from our study, the results suggest that early or late bedtime is more likely to disrupt the internal clock, with adverse consequences for cardiovascular health.”

To investigate how different bed times could affect heart health, Plans and colleagues reached out to the UK Biobank, which holds information and information on more than 500,000 volunteers aged 37 to 73 who were recruited from 2006 to 2010 on their demographics, lifestyle and health. Their physical health was also assessed.

The researchers focused on 88,926 adults, mean age 61, who wore accelerometers (devices that record when a person moves) on their wrists for seven days. Using the data from the accelerometer, the researchers determined the times of falling asleep and waking up.

During an average follow-up of 5.7 years, 3,172 of the volunteers (3.6 percent) suffered cardiovascular events such as strokes, heart attacks, or heart failure – cases were highest in people who slept at midnight or later and lowest in those who slept by 10 fell asleep until 10:59 p.m.

Even when a number of factors were taken into account – including age, gender, length of sleep, sleep irregularities, early risers or night owls, smoking status, body mass index, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and socioeconomic status – falling asleep regularly at midnight or later was still with that highest increased risk associated with heart disease.

The increased risk was more pronounced in women who fell asleep later. Men only had a higher heart risk if they fell asleep before 10 p.m.

The new study “really reinforces what we know from a cardiovascular risk prevention standpoint – sleep is a risk factor,” said Dr. Francoise Marvel, Assistant Professor and Co-Director of the Johns Hopkins Digital Health Lab at Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore. “But there is a big, important loophole to be recognized: There is currently no evidence that improving sleep can effectively reduce cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes.”

Previous studies have shown that sleep length is important, Marvel said. The new study didn’t look at times of waking up along with falling asleep, but the American Heart Association’s primary prevention guidelines suggest that people who sleep less than six hours are at risk for high blood pressure, which is a major cardiovascular risk factor, she said.

The study is particularly “fascinating” when it comes to the results on women, said Dr. Roxana Mehran, interventional cardiologist and professor of medicine, cardiology, and population health science and policy at the Icahn School of Medicine on Mount Sinai in New York.

Cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.

“So we have to find out everything that is more or less important for preventing heart disease in women,” said Mehran.

Still, she said, the results must be taken with a grain of salt. The new research shows a link, but doesn’t prove that falling asleep either later or earlier than the hour of 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. causes heart disease. Other factors could be the real culprits, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, she said.

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