Mind & Body

Try This to Help Stay Awake

Staying up till 10 p.m. can be hard this time of year, but is important for your health
TIMEDecember 7, 2021

It can be hard to stay awake this time of year. Every day the sun sets a little earlier, and when it’s dark around 5 p.m., it can make 6:30 feel like midnight.

Your body is naturally equipped to shut down when it gets dark. It starts producing melatonin, so you get sleepy and crave bed. But a couple of weeks ago, we learned that going to bed too early can have health implications.

That study found that there might be a sweet spot for falling asleep. Falling asleep outside it, either before or after, may substantially boost the risk for heart disease.

The research, published in the European Heart Journal—Digital Health, indicates that going to bed between 10 and 10:59 p.m. coincides with the lowest risk for heart health. The risk went up by 12 percent for those with bedtimes between 11 and 11:59 p.m., and more than doubled to 25 percent for those going down at midnight or later.

It isn’t just the night owls who experience higher risk, either. Researchers also found that people who fell asleep earlier than 10 p.m. had a 24 percent higher risk than those going to bed in the sweet spot.

But staying up till 10 p.m. can be tough this time of year. One way to help yourself get a little bit of evening energy that may help you stay awake—and spend more time actively awake instead of just waiting to fall asleep—is to take a walk after dinner.

If you don’t have time to do a full workout before dinner, going for a walk after dinner is a relaxing way to give your body a boost and signal that it’s required for a few more hours every day.

A leisurely walk won’t turn your body on the same way as high-intensity exercise. Still, it is likely to provide enough energy to keep you awake until bedtime and encourage quality sleep. Fifteen to 30 minutes at a leisurely to moderate pace is all you need.

The benefits will go beyond beating fatigue and encouraging better sleep. Going for a walk after dinner is also associated with improved nutrient absorption, while it also offers a set plan for daily activity.

If you need help making it to 10 p.m. or so before bed or are sick of feeling so burned out in the final few hours of the day, try a walk after dinner. You’ll likely be impressed by the effect.

Mat Lecompte is a health and wellness journalist. This article was first published on Bel Marra Health.

Mat Lecompte
Starting as a journalist over 10 years ago, Mat has not only honed his belief system and approach with practical experience, but he has also worked closely with nutritionists, dieticians, athletes, and fitness professionals. He embraces natural healing methods and believes that diet, exercise and willpower are the foundation of a healthy, happy, and drug-free existence.