By now, we all know we should be aiming to get between six and nine hours sleep each night, but we also know that the reality of our sleeping habits can be quite different. If you find yourself saying ‘oh, just one more episode’, or endlessly scrolling on social media until your eyes can’t stay open anymore, you’re certainly not alone. But, scientists have now discovered the best time to go to sleep to potentially help you stay healthy.
A team from UK Biobank have said the best time to go to sleep is between 10pm and 11pm. They came to this conclusion after studying 88,000 volunteers and found that falling asleep during these hours helps to ‘synchronise’ sleep with our internal body clock. In turn, this could link to a reduced risk of cardiovascular issues, like heart attacks and strokes, as well as reducing our blood pressure.
The study took place over six years, during which researchers collected data from a wristwatch device on volunteers. They then checked the heart and circulatory health of those volunteers regularly and monitored their results.
Of the 88,000 people monitored, 3,000 of them developed cardiovascular disease and it turns out the vast majority of these cases were from volunteers who went to bed well after 11pm or before 10pm.
Surely there are other contributing factors, right? Other potential triggers like age, heart risk, weight and cholesterol levels were also taken into consideration. Researchers also found the link between sleep and heart disease was still evident even when the duration and irregularity of sleep was adjusted.
This all sounds very interesting, although notably author Dr David Plans, from the University of Exeter, said the study cannot prove cause and effect with certainty.
‘While we cannot conclude causation from our study, the results suggest that early or late bedtimes may be more likely to disrupt the body clock, with adverse consequences for cardiovascular health,’ he said.
‘The riskiest time was after midnight, potentially because it may reduce the likelihood of seeing morning light, which resets the body clock.’
Regina Giblin, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, added: ‘This large study suggests that going to sleep between 10 and 11pm could be the sweet spot for most people to keep their heart healthy long-term.
‘However… more research is needed into sleep timing and duration as a risk factor for heart and circulatory diseases.’
No more late-night Netflix for us then…