Getting an excellent night’s sleep is probably among the best measures to top your body and its immune system running on all cylinders. But it is not just about your sleep duration. Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule is just as crucial for maintaining your health. Having a consistent sleep schedule and being compatible with it also has many other health benefits like improving your mental health, boosting your mood, maximizing brain functions, and reducing stress. It also helps prevent obesity and lessen the risk of several health conditions.
I know sticking to any schedule is challenging with so much uncertainty currently. You could be still adjusting to working from home or trying to find a way to help your kids do their studies while not going to school. It is a significant challenge. Still, if you manage to find a way to maintain a regular sleep schedule, it can pay substantial dividends to your health, especially when it comes to your heart. With enough to stress about right now, the last thing you need is to raise your risks of running into cardiovascular conditions.
Why Is Consistent Sleep Good for Your Heart?
An irregular bedtime routine does not do your heart any favors. If you have the habit of falling asleep early one night, going to sleep at 3:00 a.m. the following night, only to fall asleep again at midnight the next night, you are putting yourself at a raised risk of heart attack and heart diseases. Research from Harvard University the previous year drove this point home. You can define a regular sleep time as falling asleep within the same 30 minutes’ window on average. But straying far from your usual sleep schedule is not great for your health. It can double your risk of cardiovascular diseases within the next five years.
According to a study, every one-hour change in how long you sleep each night, there is a 28% higher chance of developing metabolic syndrome, a group of conditions that raise your risk of heart disease. Smokers, shift workers, and people who suffer from depression usually have greater odds of reporting an irregular sleep schedule. Inconsistent bedtimes also increase the risk of the following health issues: High blood pressure or hypertension, obesity, stroke, and diabetes.
The key takeaway from the discussion is probably clear: you must keep your sleep schedule consistent. That goes for the weekend, as well.
How Should You Improve Your Sleep Routine?
Ensuring that you get to bed around the same time every night is easier with a good bedtime routine. Keeping that in mind, follow a few simple steps mentioned further to take when getting ready for bed.
Avoid the Usual Sleep-Disturbing Suspects:
Exposure to blue light from your devices, caffeine close to the bed, and napping after 3 p.m. messes with your sleep quality, so you must limit them as much as possible. If you need to check your devices, wear blue-light-blocking glasses.
Know Your Chronotype:
Your body and heart depend on a solid circadian rhythm to operate at their peak. This is the 24-hour clock running in the background while you go about your day. But not every individual’s biological clock keeps the same time or runs at the same pace. It is essential to know your chronotypes, which can help you determine the best time to do various things, including when to exercise, rest, eat, and even be intimate with your significant other. Understanding your chorotype gives you an excellent foundation for deciding when you should hit the hay.
Watch the Temperature:
Keeping it cool is probably the best way to go at bedtime. You can reach REM sleep faster, which helps your bodies recover quicker during the night by lowering your body temperature before bed. Research indicates setting your ambient temperature to 60-67 degrees F is optimal for quality sleep. Stick to a routine all day. Having a regular timetable for your entire day outside of your wake-up time and bedtime helps you stick to a sleep schedule better. This includes maintaining consistent eating times or even when you exercise.
Avoid Alcohol and Caffeine:
Avoid stimulants such as caffeine within a few hours before sleep. Alcohol is usually used as a sleep aid, but it is not helpful and instead interferes with normal circadian functioning.
Manage Your Worries:
Try to resolve your concerns or worries before bedtime. Jot down what is on your mind and then set it aside for the next day. Stress management can help. Start with the basics, such as setting priorities, organizing, and delegating tasks. Meditation also can ease your anxiety.
This is imperative. Before bed, you need to limit your phone usage, which radiates blue light and affects your sleep quality for a minimum of an hour, avoid work emails, and take a warm shower or bath. And yes, I know you are probably thinking right now, why should I take a warm bath when you have told me to stay cool at bedtime? But ironically, a warm bath helps your body cool down by improving blood circulation. Reading your favorite book or listening to soft music, rather than watching a TV show, is always a good move before falling asleep.
What is Sleep Apnea?
It is a potentially severe sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. If you snore loudly and feel tired even after a whole night’s sleep, you might have sleep apnea.
The main types of sleep apnea are:
Obstructive sleep apnea. This is the more common form that occurs when your throat muscles relax.
Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain does not send proper signals to your muscles that control breathing.
Complex sleep apnea syndrome, also called treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, occurs when someone has obstructive and central sleep apnea.
Risk factors include obesity and age. Sleep apnea is more common in men. Sleep apnea symptoms include snoring noisily and feeling tired even after having a whole night’s sleep. Treat Sleep apnea treatment includes lifestyle changes, such as weight loss and a breathing assistance device at night, such as a CPAP or continuous positive airway pressure machine.
What Is Insomnia?
It is a common sleep disorder that makes it difficult for you to fall asleep or cause you to wake up too early and be unable to get back to sleep. You can still feel tired after you wake up. Common causes of insomnia include stress, an irregular sleep schedule, poor sleeping habits, mental health disorders like anxiety and depression, physical illnesses and pain, medications, neurological problems, and specific sleep disorders. Therefore, it is essential to have a consistent sleep schedule to prevent insomnia.
Whether it’s strict or not, creating a solid sleep schedule invites better quality rest, leading to better overall health. Those who get adequate sleep have improved learning, easier decision-making, better emotional well-being, boosted moods, lower risk of diseases, better immune function, and increased performance compared to those with sleep deficiencies. Do whatever you can to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Doing so would help reduce your odds of running into other major health issues, like heart disease and diabetes.