For optimal health, make regular sleep patterns a habit.
Getting the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night can be challenging enough. Kids come pussyfooting in and wake us up at 2 a.m. Or we stay up too late binge-watching TV, or we burn the midnight oil on a work project. As if getting enough sleep isn’t already a high bar to reach, researchers tell us to also keep an eye on irregular sleep patterns. For this week’s Healthy Habit, let’s look at three reasons adults need regular bedtimes.
For Better Health
According to new research from Duke University Medical Center, a regular sleep and wake time helps keep the heart and metabolism healthy. In the study, which was conducted on nearly 2,000 older adults, people with irregular sleep patterns weighed more, had higher blood sugar, higher blood pressure, and a higher projected risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years when compared to those who slept and woke at the same times every day. Additionally, irregular sleepers were more likely to report stress and depression.
A regular sleep routine serves as an anchor for other bodily processes, such as digestion, points out Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., of the National Sleep Foundation. “Our bodies crave consistency,” she writes. “With regular daily activities, our various body systems are able to prepare for and anticipate events.”
To Fight Insomnia
A regular bedtime also makes it easier for the body and mind to get the message that it’s time to relax and fall asleep. In fact, cognitive behavioral therapists will recommend that insomnia patients go to bed and get up at the same time every day—even on the weekends.
Ready to create a healthful bedtime routine? Check out tips for creating a winter sleep ritual and ways to release stress before sleeping.