Is there a Best Time to go to Bed?

Good health is a luxury, and the veracity of this maxim is one we have been reminded of repeatedly in the last year. This is why pedestrian-sounding questions like “what is the best time to go to sleep?” will never not be important.

Thankfully, a recent study seems to have the answer we have all been inadvertently searching for. Apparently, the best time to call it a day and go to bed if we are looking to dodge cardiovascular problems in future is between the hours of 10 and 11 p.m. Not a moment before or after.

Close up image of an alarm clock at 10 past 10 with the blurred image of a sleeping woman in the background
According to a new study, the best time to go to bed is between the hours of 10 and 11 p.m. Image courtesy of Sleep Sisters

Why not earlier, you may wonder?

Interestingly, the researchers in the course of their experiment discovered that going to bed before 10 p.m. or at midnight or later might raise the risk for heart disease by nearly 25 per cent, a situation that may be traced to the altering of the body’s circadian rhythm — its internal clock, the study authors said.

“The circadian system controls daily behavioural and physiological rhythms. Disruption to the circadian rhythm has wide-ranging implications, resulting in poorer cognitive performance and increased risk for various physical and mental conditions, including cardiovascular disorders,” explained lead researcher David Plans.

The central clock in the brain controls the circadian rhythm throughout the body. This central clock is calibrated by exposure to light, particularly morning light, which is detected by receptors in the eyes, Plans said further.

“When this morning light is detected, the clock is recalibrated. Therefore, if a person goes to sleep very late, they might oversleep and miss this critical period of morning light. If this occurs over an extended period of time, the circadian rhythm will become disrupted. As a result, there will be effects on other behavioural and physiological rhythms, which can be detrimental to health.”

Plans however cautioned that this study can’t prove that the time one goes to sleep causes heart disease, but it might, if confirmed, be a possible risk factor.

Close up image of a Black person taking a walk
Waking up to face the early morning night is just as important. Image courtesy of

The researchers had information on when participants went to sleep and woke up over a week by using accelerometers worn on the wrist. Participants also completed questionnaires about lifestyle and health.

Over an average follow-up of nearly six years, 3.6 per cent of the participants developed heart disease. Most of those who developed it went to sleep at midnight or later. People who were least likely to develop cardiovascular disease went to sleep between 10 p.m. and 10:59 p.m., the researchers found. Those who went to sleep between 11 and 11:59 p.m. had a 12 per cent higher risk, and those who went to sleep before 10 p.m. had a 24 per cent higher risk.

As for gender, the study revealed that the risk was greatest among women. Among men, only going to sleep before 10 p.m. remained significant, the researchers noted.

While acknowledging that further studies are required to prove that sleep times have a direct effect on whether not we are at risk of developing heart diseases in future, Plans has the following advice for us: “Go to sleep at a reasonable hour and wake up early enough to get some outside time in the morning; avoid blue light late at night; no caffeine late in the day; avoid naps after about 4 p.m.; use the bedroom only for sleeping, and, only go to bed when you feel like you are ready to sleep.”

Source: WebMD

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