Researchers have found, going to bed at the same time every night helps the heart recover from the day and reduces the risk of heart disease.
This may explain why people who work nights or travel between time zones frequently are more likely to suffer from heart problems later in life. Scientists found people who did not get enough sleep and stayed up too late had a raised pulse and increased levels of harmful stress hormones.
Experts believe getting enough sleep, at the same time every night, allows the heart to rejuvenate. Doctors have warned people that a lack of regular sleep raises the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and even cancer.
But until now, researchers and doctors have not been sure exactly why this is. The new research, conducted by Northwestern University, Chicago, suggests that the heart needing to rejuvenate is key.
The research team believe this is tied to an internal mechanism called the circadian rhythm.
Nearly all living things have this circadian rhythm or basically body clock, which synchronizes bodily functions to the 24-hour pattern of the Earth’s rotation.
In humans, the clock is regulated by the bodily senses, most importantly the way the eye perceives light and dark and the way skin feels temperature changes.
One study that examined data from 3,000 adults over the age of 45 found that those who slept fewer than six hours per night were about twice as likely to have a stroke or heart attack as people who slept six to eight hours per night.
It’s not completely clear why less sleep is detrimental to health, but researchers understand that sleeping too little causes disruptions in underlying health conditions and biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammation.