Nurse Visiting Senior Male Patient At Home

The risk of developing hypertension was found to be higher among COVID-19 patients who were over 40, male, Black, or had pre-existing conditions. (© M. Business - stock.adobe.com)

DUNDEE, Scotland — We’ve all heard the terms “morning lark” and “night owl” to describe people’s sleep preferences. Some folks naturally wake up at the crack of dawn, ready to seize the day, while others come alive when the Sun goes down. But did you know that these sleep patterns, known as chronotypes, might affect how your body responds to blood pressure medications?

A groundbreaking study from the University of Dundee’s School of Medicine, in collaboration with international researchers, suggests that taking your blood pressure pills at a time that matches your personal sleep schedule could provide extra protection for your heart. If confirmed, this idea could revolutionize how we treat high blood pressure, a condition that significantly increases the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.

Chronotypes are more than just a preference

You might think being a morning person or a night owl is just about when you prefer to sleep, but it’s much more than that.

“We all have an internal biological clock which determines our chronotype – whether we are more of a ‘morning’ or ‘evening’ person,” explains Dr. Kenneth Dyar, a circadian biologist from Helmholtz Munich, in a media release.

This internal clock isn’t just a quirk; it’s hardwired into our genes.

“This internal time is genetically determined and affects biological functions over 24 hours,” Dr. Dyar continues, “including gene expression, blood pressure rhythms, and how we respond to medications.”

In other words, your chronotype influences not just when you feel most awake but also how your body functions throughout the day, including how it reacts to drugs like blood pressure medications.

Why do scientists recommend matching meds to your body clock?

Publishing their work in the journal eClinicalMedicine, the research team examined over 5,000 people participating in a clinical trial. Each person completed an online questionnaire to determine whether they were a morning lark, a night owl, or somewhere in between. Then, half of them took their usual blood pressure medication in the morning, while the other half took it in the evening.

The results were striking. Morning larks who took their pills in the morning were less likely to have a heart attack compared to those who took them in the evening. On the flip side, night owls who took their medication in the evening had fewer heart-related hospital visits than those who took their pills in the morning.

Prescription medication, drugs, pills, vitamins, supplements
Taking your blood pressure pills at a time that matches your personal sleep schedule could provide extra protection for your heart. (Photo by Laurynas Mereckas on Unsplash)

This suggests that aligning your medication schedule with your body’s natural rhythm could enhance its effectiveness. It’s like working with your body’s natural flow instead of against it.

“These results are exciting because they could represent a ‘paradigm shift’ in the treatment of hypertension,” says Dr. Filippo Pigazzani, the study’s creator from the University’s School of Medicine. “Our research has now shown for the first time that considering chronotype when deciding dosing time of antihypertensives – personalized chronotherapy – could reduce the risk of heart attack.”

This approach is called chronotherapy – delivering treatments when they’re most likely to be effective and well-tolerated. While the idea of timing medications isn’t new, this study is the first to show that matching blood pressure pill timing to your personal sleep schedule could make a real difference.

Why do these findings matter?

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a serious health concern. People with this condition face a higher risk of heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure compared to the general population. Despite progress in treatments like diet changes, exercise, and drugs, controlling blood pressure and preventing complications remains an urgent health need. This new approach could offer a simple, cost-effective way to boost the effectiveness of existing treatments.

“It’s important for physicians to remember that not all patients are the same. Humans show wide inter-individual differences in their chronotype, and these personal differences are known to affect disease risk,” Dr. Dyar says.

The best part? Figuring out a patient’s chronotype is quick and easy. There’s no need for expensive tests or time-consuming procedures. A simple quiz can help doctors determine whether you’re a morning lark, a night owl, or somewhere in between.

Should you change your sleep schedule?

While these findings are exciting, the researchers caution against making changes without medical advice.

“Before any patients change when they are taking their antihypertensive medications, our findings first need to be confirmed in new randomized clinical trials of personalized chronotherapy,” Dr. Pigazzani stresses.

In other words, keep taking your blood pressure pills as prescribed, but stay tuned. If these results are confirmed in future studies, your doctor might one day ask, “Are you a morning lark or a night owl?” before deciding when you should take your medication. This simple question could lead to better blood pressure control and, most importantly, help prevent heart attacks.

StudyFinds Editor Chris Melore contributed to this report.

About StudyFinds Staff

StudyFinds sets out to find new research that speaks to mass audiences — without all the scientific jargon. The stories we publish are digestible, summarized versions of research that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. StudyFinds Staff articles are AI assisted, but always thoroughly reviewed and edited by a Study Finds staff member. Read our AI Policy for more information.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor