Regular bedtime sleep could benefit heart health in middle-aged people

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Recent research has shed light on the connection between sleep patterns and heart health, particularly for middle-aged individuals.

A joint study by the University of Oulu and elsewhere has found that an irregular sleep rhythm is linked to poorer cardiovascular health, with inconsistent bedtimes notably increasing waist size.

These findings are detailed in their paper published in the Journal of Activity, Sedentary and Sleep Behaviors.

This study stands out as it’s the first large-scale examination of middle-aged people using activity monitors to measure both physical activity and sleep rhythm.

The results reveal that while physical activity can lessen the negative impact of irregular sleep on heart disease risk factors, such as blood sugar, triglycerides, and blood pressure, sleep irregularities still pose a risk.

In particular, going to bed at inconsistent times is associated with a larger waist circumference, regardless of physical activity or time spent in bed.

The lead researcher, Laura Nauha, notes that the differences in waist size between those with regular and irregular bedtimes are statistically significant, albeit not very large. The research utilized extensive data from individuals born in 1966 in Northern Finland.

Nearly 3,700 participants, aged 46, took part in this follow-up study. They completed health and lifestyle questionnaires and underwent clinical examinations that included measurements of body size, blood pressure, blood lipid levels, and glucose tolerance.

An activity meter worn on the wrist provided data on physical activity and sleep rhythm.

The study found that, on average, participants went to bed at around 11:22 PM, woke up at about 7:17 AM, and spent approximately 7 hours and 57 minutes in bed. For half of the participants, bedtimes, wake-up times, and the duration in bed varied by more than an hour from the weekly average.

Nauha points out that even though the average time in bed for these middle-aged people is within the recommended seven to nine hours of night’s sleep, variations in sleep rhythm corresponded to later average bedtimes and wake-up times.

Previous studies on sleep rhythm and cardiovascular health have mostly focused on shift workers. This study expands the scope, highlighting that factors beyond work hours affect sleep rhythm.

Nauha emphasizes the importance of maintaining a regular sleep schedule, in addition to ensuring sufficient sleep and physical activity, for optimal health.

This study suggests that health counseling should pay more attention to individuals’ circadian rhythms, regular sleep patterns, and physical activity for overall well-being and heart health, particularly in middle-aged populations.

If you care about heart health, please read studies about how eating eggs can help reduce heart disease risk, and herbal supplements could harm your heart rhythm.

For more information about health, please see recent studies that olive oil may help you live longer, and vitamin D could help lower the risk of autoimmune diseases.

The research findings can be found in Journal of Activity, Sedentary and Sleep Behaviors.

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