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There’s conflicting advice on sleep. So what’s true?

Young woman sleeping on a bed on her back
Image: iStock

Sleep is vital for health. Everyone needs adequate, quality sleep. According to Healthline, effects from a lack of quality sleep can include:

  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Various mental health problems (irritability, depression, anxiety, hallucinations, suicidal thoughts)
  • Weakened immune system, which can affect a person’s ability to ward off illnesses
  • Increased risk of chronic conditions, such as diabetes mellitusĀ and heart disease
  • A vulnerable respiratory system. This leaves a person more susceptible to the flu and common colds
  • Weight gain and obesity

Is going to bed earlier healthier?

Although effects of a lack of sleep seem clear cut, the ‘right time’ is not.

Last week, The Australian published an article suggesting that going to bed earlier can have health benefits. The ideal bedtime is between 10 to 10.59 pm.

Going to bed at midnight or later may increase a person’s risk of heart disease by 25%.

According to lecturer, Dr. David Plans, the reason seems to be our 24-hour body clock.

Our study indicates that the optimum to go to sleep is at a specific point in the body’s 24-hour cycle and deviation may be detrimental to health.

Dr. Plans said that the riskiest time to go to bed is after midnight, as it decreased the body’s likelihood of seeing morning light.

Independent researcher, Dr. Neill Stanley blamed later bedtimes on modern lifestyle.

Like Dr. Plans, Dr. Stanley also advocates for people going to bed at a regular and earlier time. It’s suggested that going to bed even ten minutes earlier can increase health.

According to a large study by researchers at the University of Colorado going to bed an hour earlier may decrease a person’s risk of depression by 23%. This finding was published in the JAMA Psychiatry journal.

There is a physical affect of going to bed earlier. A late night may result a rise in blood pressure that carries on to the next day.

So, it seems quite clear cut. Going to be earlier and at a regular time increases both physical and mental health. Well, maybe… but maybe not.

Are bedtime needs determined by biology?

A dark-skinned sleeping baby
Image: iStock

A 2019 article from the ABC website drew different conclusions.

Health psychologist from Sleep Health Foundation, Moira Junge claimed that the ideal bedtime was a ‘myth’.

Dr. Junge said:

It’s a vague science to prescribe a bedtime for people.

Glorica Micic from the Adelaide Institute of Sleep Health at the Flinders University agreed.

She suggested that if people didn’t have commitments and could go to bed when tired, times will vary from person to person.

However, most people were believed to fall into a pattern. Most people fell asleep between 9 pm and midnight and wake up at 6 – 7 am.

Dr. Junge and Dr Micic advised to go to bed when you’re tired. They advised against going to bed earlier.

It’s possible to adjust a person’s sleeping and waking times slightly, often with professional help.

 

So, what’s the truth? Did Dr. Stanley and Dr. Plans debunk Dr. Junge and Dr. Micic? It’s always possible.

Personally, I can kind of see both arguments. However, I’m more willing to go with Dr. Junge and Dr. Micic. I think ideal bedtimes vary from person to person.

What do you think? Are you a night owl or early bird? Do you think one is better? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

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By Sara Harnetty

I'm a student. Interested in current events, music and various issues.

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