The wake-up call: how alarms affect your heart health

Credit: Unsplash+.

Imagine this: your alarm clock goes off early in the morning, jolting you awake. Annoying, right?

But did you know this sudden wake-up could also be bad for your heart?

Researchers from the University of Virginia’s School of Nursing have discovered something surprising about our morning alarms.

A nursing student named Yeonsu Kim conducted a study to see how being abruptly awakened (like by an alarm on your phone) impacts your blood pressure in the morning.

This sudden jump in blood pressure right after waking up can increase the risk of heart problems, including strokes and heart attacks.

Although everyone experiences a bit of a blood pressure surge in the morning, people who have bigger surges may face more risks.

Kim’s study involved 32 people over two days. These participants slept while wearing smartwatches and special blood pressure cuffs on their fingers.

On the first night, they woke up naturally, without any alarms. But on the second night, they set alarms to wake them up after just five hours of sleep.

The findings were quite interesting. On the mornings when participants were forced to wake up by an alarm, their blood pressure surged 74% more than when they woke up naturally.

This suggests that being jolted awake, especially after a short sleep, might be linked to a bigger rise in morning blood pressure. This could be more concerning for adults with heart issues.

One of the participants, Daniel Lee, a mechanical engineering student, usually relies on his phone’s alarm. Although he’s a good sleeper, waking up with an alarm after just five hours of sleep felt very unsettling.

When the blood pressure jumps too high in the morning, it can trigger our body’s stress response. This can make the heart work harder, leading to tiredness, shortness of breath, anxiety, stiff neck, and sometimes even nosebleeds and headaches.

Also, people who sleep less than seven hours a night – which is quite common – tend to have a bigger morning blood pressure surge. This puts them at a higher risk for strokes and heart attacks.

Kim’s study adds to what we already know about waking up. For example, a 2020 study found that waking up to a melody can help you feel less groggy. And a 2021 study showed that light in the morning helps your body wake up.

This research is important because it can guide future studies and the creation of new devices. Imagine wearable tech that can understand your sleep patterns and wake you up gently to reduce that morning blood pressure spike!

After being part of this study, even Daniel Lee decided to change his routine. He plans to skip setting an alarm on weekends to wake up more naturally.

So, next time your alarm rings, think about how it’s not just pulling you out of sleep – it might also be causing a bit of a stir in your heart!

If you care about heart health, please read studies about the best time to take vitamins to prevent heart disease, and calcium supplements could harm your heart health.

For more health information, please see recent studies that blackcurrants can reduce blood sugar after meal and results showing how drinking milk affects risks of heart disease and cancer.

Copyright © 2023 Knowridge Science Report. All rights reserved.