Sleep plays a vital role in maintaining your physiological and cognitive well being. It helps your body rest, repairs tissues, and allows your body to regain energy. Lack of sleep on the other hand can lead to a range of health issues, including impaired brain function, weakened immune system, and increased risk of chronic conditions like obesity and heart disease.
Research emphasises on the importance of following a consistent sleep schedule, meaning a regular and consistent daily timetable for when a person goes to bed and wakes up. This is said to not only reduce risk of heart disease but also enhance overall health. In an interaction with the OnlyMyHealth team, Dr Hisham Ahamed, Associate Professor and Consultant Cardiologist, Amrita Hospital, Kochi, explains how and ways to create a sleep schedule.
The Link Between Sleep And Circadian Rhythm
“Circadian rhythms act as your body's natural daily schedule, influencing your periods of alertness, drowsiness, and hunger throughout the day,” says Dr Ahamed, adding, “These rhythms are driven primarily by exposure to sunlight and other sources of light.”
According to him, circadian rhythm essentially functions as your personalised 24-hour timetable, telling you when you should be awake and when you should be asleep.
During daylight hours, it helps maintain your alertness, whereas at night, it triggers the release of melatonin, a hormone that induces sleepiness.
“When your daily activities, such as late nights or shifts across time zones, deviate from this internal schedule, it can disrupt your sleep patterns and leave you feeling fatigued. For some individuals, issues with their internal clocks can lead to sleep disturbances,” Dr Ahamed adds.
Can Sticking To A Sleep Schedule Boost Health?
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), 7-9 hours of sleep per night is key. The inability to achieve sufficient sleep has been linked to heart problems. This includes obesity, high blood pressure and diabetes. Furthermore, the AHA says irregular sleep can negatively influence diet, stress and other lifestyle factors that can raise the risk of cardiovascular disease.
In fact, a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition found that consistent sleep routines, meaning bedtime and wake time, could reduce the risk of diseases.
Researchers found that even a slight difference in sleeping habits between work and days off could cause unhealthy changes to the bacteria in our guts, which has been linked to increased risk of conditions and illnesses like obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney disease, and heart disease.
Another recent study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found irregular sleep to be an early marker of cardiovascular disease after examining sleep data from 2,000 adults over 45 over the course of a week.
How To Establish A Regular Sleep Schedule
To keep your heart and overall health in top shape, here’s how you can create a consistent sleep pattern:
- Consistently retire to bed and awaken at the same time every day
- Minimise daytime naps to increase nighttime sleep readiness
- Indulge in relaxing activities like a warm bath, calming music, or relaxation techniques such as progressive muscle relaxation and deep breathing
- Make your bedroom primarily for sleep to associate it with restfulness
- Strive for 7-9 hours of sleep each night
- Implement a structured bedtime routine
- Avoid exposure to screens and stimulants prior to sleep
Do not compromise with your sleep and sleep schedule. 7-9 hours of sleep is critical for overall well-being. But remember to try and stick to a consistent bedtime routine.