5 Benefits of an Early Bedtime
By now, we’re all familiar with the benefits of getting enough, good quality sleep, but it’s not just how much sleep you get that’s important, but when you get it. While most experts agree between 7-9 hours sleep is optimum for most people’s overall health and wellbeing, moving the time you go to bed to earlier in the evening – even by 60 minutes – can have just as big an impact, affecting everything from your body to your mood and your relationships.
Prevent mindless eating and drinking
Getting to bed earlier can be a great way to put an end to mindless snacking that often happens when you’re idly browsing the fridge late at night. According to experts, the chances of eating badly increase the later we stay up, as our bodies are wired to prefer the taste of calorie-dense salty, sugary and fatty foods after 8pm; research by the Sleep Research Society has also shown that those who stay up until the early hours are also more likely to consume around about 550 more calories than those who have a regular bedtime of 10pm.
Make exercise easier
Shifting your sleep schedule forward a couple of hours means you’re more likely to wake earlier the next day feeling full of energy. If that’s the case, you're also more likely to be able (and feel in the mood for) an early morning workout, which, according to various studies, is one of the best ways of starting the day with more energy, focus and optimism. Getting your exercise in early has also be shown to be a great way to improve willpower and help you commit to exercise long term.
Improve heart health
Overtime, bad sleep habits such as regular broken sleep and insomnia can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease. If your sleep is often fragmented and disrupted or you simply don’t get enough hours in, you’ll find you won’t be spending enough time in the deep stages of NREM sleep that directly benefit heart health. Amongst the many issues that sleep deprivation can have on heart health, studies also found it contributes to atherosclerosis, a potentially serious condition where arteries become clogged with fatty substances called plaques or atheroma. A study at the Misao Health Clinic in Gifu in Japan, showed that participants who went to bed after midnight had significantly more arterial stiffening due to atherosclerosis than those who went to bed earlier in the evening.
Stay in control of your emotions
Going to bed earlier increases the likelihood of getting enough good quality regular sleep, so even if it usually takes you a while to drop off, chances are you’ll still be able to sleep for longer once you do. All of that is great news in particular for your stress levels and emotions, as getting an early night is vital in helping your body cope. That’s because a well-rested mind is better equipped at handling stress and solving problems than one that is tired and overwrought. In a study at the University of Toronto, more than 700 respondents aged 17 to 79 took part in a trial, where those who identified themselves as early risers reported feeling happier and healthier than their night owl counterparts.
When you sleep, your body releases cytokines, cells which boots your immune system and protect you from infection. Not getting enough sleep or going to bed too late and missing out on vital hours means your body isn’t making enough cytokines and won’t be able to bolster you as efficiently. Getting good quality shut eye will also help stave off coughs and colds quicker too, so it’s important to stick to a regular sleep schedule.