(Natural News) No matter how busy you are, it’s important to set aside at least eight hours of your day for sleep. A good night’s rest can do wonders for your body but it’s not all about the quantity and quality of sleep you’re getting. A recent study published in the journal Scientific Reports revealed that going to bed at the same time every night is also important for maintaining heart health and metabolism.
The team, which was composed of researchers from Duke University Medical Center, determined this by studying the sleeping patterns of nearly 2,000 people. All of these participants were between 54 to 93 years old and had no history of any sleep disorder. The researchers kept track of the sleeping patterns by making the participants wear wrist-worn devices, which measured physical activity and ambient light, as well as making them accomplish a sleep diary. These were done for a period of seven days and afterward, scientists proceeded to determine known risk factors of cardiovascular disease, which include blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar levels, and body weight.
From this experiment, the researchers found that people with irregular bedtimes had higher body weights, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure than those who slept at a consistent time. Because of these factors, those who had variable sleeping patterns were projected to have an increased risk of heart attack, stroke, or obesity in the next 10 years. Moreover, they also had a higher risk of depression and stress, which are associated with cardiometabolic diseases. The effects of sleep regularity on cardiometabolic outcomes observed in this study were even more significant than those that were observed for sleep duration.
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“Perhaps there’s something about obesity that disrupts sleep regularity. Or, as some research suggests, perhaps poor sleep interferes with the body’s metabolism which can lead to weight gain, and it’s a vicious cycle,” said Dr. Jessica Lunsford-Avery who comes from the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences in Duke University Medical Center and who is one of the authors of the study.
Overall, these results suggest that sleep irregularity is a potential target for the identification and prevention of cardiovascular and metabolic diseases. (Related: Sound sleep habits and healthy lifestyle reduces risk of fatal heart attack by nearly eighty percent.)
How to maintain a sleep schedule
Following a sleep schedule might be difficult especially if you’re busy all the time but the body has its ways of synchronizing your sleep-wake cycles so that you get the rest you need. It does this through the circadian rhythm, which acts like an internal clock that regulates biological patterns like body temperature, blood pressure, and hormone levels. This body clock is affected by factors such as light exposure that you have to consider if you want to maintain your sleep regularity. To help synchronize your circadian rhythm, you can give the following tips a try:
- Keep your room dark when you’re sleeping — When it comes to light exposure and sleep, it’s all about proper timing. Light triggers a state of wakefulness so exposure at the wrong time can disrupt your sleep cycle. Start reducing the amount of light in your room as the sun sets and keep it as dark as you can when you go to bed so that your circadian rhythm can detect that it’s time for sleep.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks — Coffee, energy drinks, soda, and some teas contain caffeine that can keep you up all night. This compound can disrupt your circadian rhythm by delaying the release of the sleep hormone melatonin by approximately 40 minutes so avoid taking it near your bedtime.
- Set your room temperature — The core body temperature needs to decrease for you to fall asleep. To achieve this, set your room temperature at 65 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit. You can continue to use blankets to stay comfortable, you just have to make sure that at least your head is exposed to cool air since this is already enough to lower body temperature.
For more articles about maintaining heart health, visit Heart.news.