Sleep

A consistent bedtime is good for your heart

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  • Not going to bed at the same time each night can increase your heart rate
  • The next day your heart rate may still be elevated
  • Over weekends it can be a challenge to stick to your 'week' bedtime 


In the age of TV marathons, sticking to a consistent bedtime can be a challenge, but new research shows it could help reduce your risk of heart problems.

For the study, the researchers assessed the link between a regular bedtime and resting heart rate, and found that people who went to bed later or earlier than normal had a higher resting heart rate.

"We already know an increase in resting heart rate means an increased risk of cardiovascular health," said study lead author Nitesh Chawla, a professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.

"Through our study, we found that even if you get seven hours of sleep a night, if you're not going to bed at the same time each night, not only does your resting heart rate increase while you sleep, it carries over into the next day," Chawla explained in a university news release.

The investigators analysed data on bedtimes, sleep and resting heart rate collected from 557 college students over four years.

Part of healthy sleep habits

According to the study, significant increases in resting heart rate occurred when participants went to bed between one and 30 minutes later than their normal bedtime. The later a person retired for the night, the higher the increase in resting heart rate.

And the higher resting heart rates lasted into the next day.

In addition, the researchers were surprised to find that going to bed earlier than normal was also associated with a higher resting heart rate – but it hinged on how early. Retiring 30 minutes earlier than usual had little effect, while going to bed more than a half-hour earlier significantly increased resting heart rate.

But unlike later-than-usual bedtimes, resting heart rate after an early bedtime leveled out during sleep.

The findings show that a consistent bedtime needs to be part of healthy sleep habits, according to Chawla.

"For some, it may be a matter of maintaining their regular 'work week' bedtime through the weekend," he said. "For shift workers and those who travel frequently, getting to bed at the same time each night is a challenge. Establishing a healthy bedtime routine – as best you can – is obviously step number one. But sticking to it is just as important."

The findings were published online recently in the journal npj Digital Medicine.

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