Eight Hours Of Sleep Is Irrelevant If Bedtimes Are Irregular, Study Finds

A new study suggests that not going to bed and waking up at the same time every day is just as bad for our health as not getting enough sleep, reports The Sun.

The two-year worldwide study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation concluded that adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep while teens need between eight and ten hours. Sleep deprivation can increase our risk of developing many health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

The NHS has reported that regular poor sleep can shorten life expectancy and that the quality and regularity of sleep is important for overall health, writes The Sun.

“An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won’t harm your health. If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes.”

Researchers at Duke University Medical Center studied 2,000 adults aged 54-93 with no history of sleep disorders to determine if there was a link between sleep patterns and health. They then calculated the 10-year risk of developing certain diseases based off of bedtime patterns. The participants wore sleep tracking devices and kept a journal to write down their habits and experiences.

The researchers determined that those with irregular sleep patterns had a higher body mass index (BMI), higher levels of blood sugar, higher blood pressure, and were more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the next 10 years than those who slept regularly and soundly. Furthermore, participants who woke up consistently during the night were more likely to have depression and high stress levels.

The study’s researchers determined that “Sleep irregularity may represent a target for early identification and prevention of cardiometabolic disease.”

Head of the study, Dr. Jessica Lunsford-Avery, commented on the results, stating that, “sleep irregularity results in health risks, or whether health conditions affect sleep. Perhaps all of these things are impacting each other.”

“Perhaps there’s something about obesity that disrupts sleep regularity,” she continued. “Or, as some research suggests, perhaps poor sleep interferes with the body’s metabolism which can lead to weight gain, and it’s a vicious cycle.”

Another study last year looked at the effects of “social jet lag” on health, or the tendency to keep regular bedtime hours during the week and irregular hours on weekends. The results found that this sleep pattern carries with it a higher risk of heart disease, writes The Sun.

The findings of this study help narrow down who is at risk of developing life-threatening diseases and why. The bottom line: sleep deprivation and sleep irregularity are harmful to our health and we should prioritize sleep to minimize our risks of developing chronic illnesses.

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