sleepEarly to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. While we can’t tell you that a good night’s sleep most nights will increase your checking account bottom line or make you smarter, it could very well make you healthier — so much healthier that you will live longer than those who skimp on sleep. But get this: It’s not sleep that keeps your heart healthier so you live longer. It’s the lifestyle you’re more likely to lead if you sleep well. That’s the word from researchers at the University of Delaware, who have concluded that the duration and timing of your sleep are closely associated with whether your behavior is heart-healthy.

Sleep deficits and poor-quality sleep have been linked to obesity and a myriad of health problems, but this study shows that when it comes to promoting healthy hearts, it’s not a matter of getting more sleep. It’s a matter of getting adequate sleep at optimal times. Doing that seems to reduce the behaviors — smoking, sedentary lifestyles and poor dietary choices — that put hearts in harm’s way. The study found that those whose sleep was either short or long and the night owls who went to bed later were more likely than adequate sleepers and those who went to bed earlier to smoke, remain sedentary and eat fewer fruits and vegetables.