You Need This Childhood Habit Now More Than Ever

We outgrow a lot of things, from throwing tantrums to gorging on sweets. (Well, okay, maybe not all of us.) But some habits we picked up as kids could do a lot for us as adults.

That's the message behind a new study from Duke University, which looks into the health benefits of keeping to a regular sleep schedule as adults. It's not just a matter of being well-rested and refreshed for the day ahead, although that's critical on its own merits. The Duke researchers found that maintaining a regular bedtime can actually affect your heart and metabolic health in a positive way.

According to a press release, study participants without a consistent bedtime and wakeup time "weighed more, had higher blood sugar, higher blood pressure, and a higher projected risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years." If you're already at risk for things like diabetes or depression, establishing a regular routine can play a part in keeping chronic conditions at bay.

One easy way to regulate your sleep schedule is to watch your coffee intake. There's nothing wrong and everything right with starting your day with a cup of joe, but if you're still craving it in the afternoon, consider recent research showing that the smell alone of coffee beans may help keep you sharp. If you need help shaking off a bad day at work, do something nice for yourself to wind down before you turn in. Recent studies suggest that making the next day's to-do list can help keep your mind from racing in bed. Whatever tricks work best for you will pay off in big ways over the years to come.