The sleep habit that calcifies your arteries

I’m an “early bird,” and I won’t lie — I’ve always felt a secret superiority to those “night owls” who stumble to their desks at noon and stay up past midnight.

The fact is that the world operates in my favor. I mean, unless you work the night shift, most jobs happen during the day. And night owls aren’t built for this.

And this is more than an annoyance. It affects the amount and quality of sleep that people can get.

And this, in turn, can have disastrous consequences for their health…

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What’s your chronotype?

A recent study that builds on past research shows that paying attention to your sleep pattern can help save you from hardened arteries, heart disease and stroke.

Every one of us has a chronotype, and according to sleep scientist Dr. Matthew Walker, it’s something we’re born with.

“It’s genetic,” says Dr. Walker. “You don’t get to decide whether you’re a morning type or an evening type. It’s hard-wired into your  genes.”

Past research shows that night owls are more likely to die early and one reason is that poor sleep can harden your arteries.

But a new study goes even further…

Night owls at more risk for hard arteries

Based on their study results, two researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden propose that night owls may have a far greater likelihood of developing hardening of the arteries, better known as atherosclerosis.

The study involved 771 adults aged 50 to 64 who are part of a larger population study known as the Swedish CArdioPulmonary bioImage Study, or SCAPIS study.

SCAPIS studies cardiovascular disease (CVD) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) in the Swedish population.

After evaluating the degree of artery calcification through the use of a CT scan, participants were asked to rate their chronotype on a five-point scale: extreme morning type, moderate morning type, intermediate type, moderate evening type, or extreme evening type.

Among participants in the “extreme morning type” group, only 22.2% showed pronounced artery calcification – the lowest percentage of all chronotypes – while the “extreme evening” group showed almost double that percentage, or 40.6%.

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And in case you’re wondering, this was after the researchers looked at other factors connected with atherosclerosis, such as blood pressure, blood lipids, weight, physical activity, stress level, sleep and smoking.  

“Our results indicate that extreme evening chronotype may be linked not only to poorer cardiovascular health in general, but also more specifically to calcification in the coronary arteries calcification and atherosclerosis,” says Mio Kobayashi Frisk, a doctoral student at Gothenburg and the study’s first author.

Chronotype should be considered for disease prevention

“We interpret our results as indicating that circadian rhythms are more significant early in the disease process. It should therefore particularly be considered in the preventive treatment of cardiovascular diseases,” says Ding Zou, another study author.

In other words, knowing that you’re a “night owl” can help your doctor guide you toward preventive measures to avoid heart disease.

What preventive measures are those?

A great place to start is the advice laid out by the American Heart Association in their program, Life’s Essential 8™. This advice offers key measures for improving and maintaining cardiovascular health that consist of health behaviors and health factors that are modifiable and if improved, can reduce the risk for heart disease, stroke and other major health problems.

But any conversation about artery health wouldn’t be complete without mentioning vitamin K2. Emerging evidence from animal and clinical studies has associated low K2 levels with calcification and an elevated risk of heart problems.

And my last piece of advice would be to drink tea daily — black or green. Teas and foods like berries, apples, grapes and dark chocolate are rich in flavonoids that in studies cut down on artery calcification.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!


Artery calcification more common in night owls — Eureka Alert

Eveningness is associated with coronary artery calcification in a middle-aged Swedish population — Sleep Medicine

Chronotypes: Your natural propensity to be an early riser or night owl — Found My Fitness

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.