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On November 9, results from a UK Biobank cohort study examining the link between time of sleep onset and cardiovascular disease incidence were published in European Heart Journal – Digital Health, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology. In one of the most extensive studies on sleep timing to date, participants who routinely fell asleep between 10:00 and 11:00 p.m. showed the lowest risk for subsequent development of heart disease.
Data from 88,026 subjects recruited between 2013 and 2015 were analyzed. Ages for the sample group ranged from 43 to 79, with 57.9% being female and 41.6% being male. Enrollees agreed to wear an accelerometer on the wrist for a period of seven days to track time of sleep onset and sleep duration. These individuals were then followed for an average of 5.7 years.
Of the participants, 3.58% developed cardiovascular disease (CVD) during the follow-up period. After adjusting for sleep duration, sleep irregularity, and established CVD risk factors, those with a bedtime of midnight or later saw a 25% greater likelihood of being diagnosed with CVD. In the bedtime categories of 11:00 p.m. to midnight and before 10:00 p.m., the increased risk percentages were 12% and 24%, respectively, surprisingly showing that falling asleep before 10:00 p.m. was nearly as problematic as falling asleep after midnight. A sensitivity analysis revealed the association between bedtime and CVD risk to be stronger in females versus males.
Sleep timing has been an understudied risk factor for CVD, and the results of this study support the importance of good sleep hygiene and respecting the body’s circadian rhythms for the maintenance of heart health.
Source: Nikbakhtian S, Reed AB, Obika BD, et al. Accelerometer-derived sleep onset timing and cardiovascular disease incidence: A UK Biobank Cohort Study. European Heart Journal – Digital Health, 2021; ztab088. DOI: 10.1093/ehjdh/ztab088.
Published in the Price-Pottenger Journal of Health and Healing
Winter 2021 – 22 | Volume 45, Number 4
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