How a consistent sleep schedule benefits your health

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In the past decade, researchers have particularly strengthened the link between sleep and heart health. Last summer, the American Heart Association added sleep duration to its checklist for measuring cardiovascular health. One theory for why frequent sleep helps your heart is that maintaining your circadian rhythm — the 24-hour cycle of your body’s internal clock — helps regulate cardiovascular function, Dr. Huang said. And a growing body of research suggests that catching up on your sleep during the weekend may not compensate for getting up during the week, he added.

People often think that sleeping in will make them feel better after limited sleep or several nights of insomnia, Dr. Mary Horvat said, “But it usually doesn’t help,” she said. “Keeping a regular, set schedule is more likely to put your body where it needs to be to get a full night’s sleep.”

So how exactly do you get yourself to bed and wake up on time? We asked sleep doctors to share their tips.

Set a wake-up goal that feels attainable (even if it’s challenging), Dr. Prather said — and then reward yourself for getting out of bed. This could mean going to your favorite coffee shop or saving that show you’ve been looking forward to for Saturday morning instead of Friday night.

A regular bedtime routine — reading a few pages of a novel after brushing your teeth, for example — can help lock into a set sleep schedule. But before you wind up for Bed Matters, Dr. Horvat said. Four hours before you go to bed, avoid alcohol, she suggested, and don’t exercise (You may want to shift your dedicated exercise time to mornings.) These changes will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep. tall.

Recruit a friend or family member to wake up around the same time, Dr. Prather recommends, and hold yourselves accountable by texting each other when you wake up. Even better: Plan for an early(ish) brunch or morning walk to give yourself that extra motivation to get up.

Light helps regulate our circadian rhythms, Dr. Abbott said, signaling to our bodies that it’s time to wake up. He recommended, if the weather permits, take (even for a short time) morning walk, exposing yourself to sunlight at the same time every day.

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