Should people keep sticking to a bedtime well into their adult years? This annoying rule from childhood might benefit grown-ups as well. In fact, going to bed at certain times can affect your health in some surprising ways. You might find a reason to become an early bird after all.
Really, it's difficult to overstate the importance of sleep. "Sleep affects almost every tissue in our bodies," said Dr. Michael Twery, a sleep expert at NIH. "It affects growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing, blood pressure and cardiovascular health." For most people, getting adequate sleep at night is all matter of going to bed early enough. Assuming that the average American wakes up by 6:30 a.m. each weekday, as explained in Edison Research, going to bed as early as 9:00 p.m. could benefit your health in some serious ways.
That said, not everyone can simply will themselves to become early risers overnight. Plenty of people are born night owls who feel more awake in the evenings, whereas others struggle with chronic insomnia. Plus, shift workers are obligated to keep on trucking while the rest of the world snoozes away. Like so many other aspects of your health, sleep schedules depend on the individual. So if you have any specific concerns about your sleep habits and overall health, then speak with your doctor for more personalized recommendations. Otherwise, read on to learn about the general ways bedtimes may affect the rest of your life.
1. Worry Less By Going To Bed Early
Keeping an early bedtime may help you keep a calmer mind. In fact, people who prefer a later bedtime reported more issues with repetitive negative thinking (AKA worrying), according to a study in Cognitive Therapy and Research. Although the link between reduced sleep and worrying has been established for a while, this study found that a person's bedtime can also impact their tendency to worry.
2. Boost Immune System With An Early Bedtime
Going to bed early gives you the best chance of getting a full night's rest, and this may help keep you healthy overall. In general, a lack of sleep can affect the body's immune system, so people who get adequate shut-eye may have a better chance of fighting off viruses such as the common cold, according to the Mayo Clinic.
3. Avoid Traffic Accidents With Sufficient Sleep Schedule
This is one of the most sobering reasons to consider an earlier bedtime. As it turns out, up to 6,000 fatal crashes every year may be caused by drowsy drivers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you're yawning, drifting from the lane, or running over a rumble strip, then pull over to rest or switch drivers, as further explained in the CDC. And to ensure you have safe and alert drives in the future, make sleep a priority. An earlier bedtime may be one of the best ways to budget for the recommended 7 to 9 hours of rest each night.
4. Increase Risk For Heart Disease With Later Bedtimes
Staying up until past midnight every night may be linked to some serious health problems. In fact, men who regularly went to bed after midnight were more likely to show early signs of heart disease when compared to their peers, according to WebMD. Even your heart needs plenty of rest each night.
5. Eat More Junk Food With Later Bedtimes
Staying up later tends to make eating junk food seem more attractive, as anyone who has pulled an all-nighter can attest. In general, people with a later bedtime tend to consume more fast food and fewer vegetables, as a study of nearly 100 self-described night owls found in The International Journal of Obesity. As it turns out, the time you go to bed each night can have a ton of consequences for your eating habits, mental space, and overall health.