Adults, like chil­dren, need a reg­u­lar bed­time, too

Business Standard - - ECONOMY - CAROLYN CRIST

Adults who have a reg­u­lar bed­time are likely to weigh less than those who don’t, to have lower blood sugar and to face a lower risk of heart dis­ease and di­a­betes, ac­cord­ing to a US study.

Al­though sci­en­tists have talked about the im­por­tance of get­ting enough sleep and get­ting qual­ity sleep, it matters how reg­u­lar your sleep sched­ule is as well, the re­searchers write in Sci­en­tific Re­ports.

“Ir­reg­u­lar sleep pat­terns are com­mon in peo­ple of all ages,” said lead author Jessica Lunsford-Avery of Duke Univer­sity Med­i­cal Cen­ter in Durham, North Carolina.

“Among older adults who have left the work­force, how­ever, that prob­lem may be ex­ac­er­bated,” she said in a phone in­ter­view.

Sleep reg­u­lar­ity, also called sleep hy­giene, is op­ti­mal when some­one goes to sleep at the same time each night and wakes up at the same time each morn­ing, in­clud­ing on week­ends. This helps the body’s cir­ca­dian rhythm to stay on track and reg­u­late other body func­tions such as ap­petite and di­ges­tion.

Lunsford-Avery and col­leagues an­a­lysed the sleep cy­cles of nearly 2,000 adults with an av­er­age age of 69 years by us­ing a new met­ric called the Sleep Reg­u­lar­ity In­dex.

The in­dex looks at sleep vari­a­tion across a 24hour day and com­pares one day to the next to un­der­stand reg­u­lar sleep and wake times as well as mid­day naps.

They used data from par­tic­i­pants in a large, long-term study who wore actig­ra­phy wrist de­vices to record sleep/wake mea­sure­ments, phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity and light ex­po­sure. The par­tic­i­pants also com­pleted sleep diaries and recorded their day­time sleepi­ness. Re­searchers used other data to mea­sure their car­dio­vas­cu­lar risk fac­tors and psy­chi­atric health.

Peo­ple with high sleep ir­reg­u­lar­ity tended to go to bed later, to sleep more dur­ing the day and less at night than reg­u­lar sleep­ers, to have re­duced light ex­po­sure and higher day­time sleepi­ness, re­searchers found.

Greater sleep ir­reg­u­lar­ity was also as­so­ci­ated with a higher 10-year risk of heart dis­ease as well as greater obe­sity, hy­per­ten­sion, fast­ing glu­cose and di­a­betes.

Sleep ir­reg­u­lar­ity was also tied to greater stress and de­pres­sion, which are linked to heart dis­ease risk as well. Im­por­tantly, African Amer­i­cans were most likely to have the great­est sleep ir­reg­u­lar­ity, the study au­thors note.

“Among the three types of sleep prob­lems - du­ra­tion, reg­u­lar­ity and tim­ing as a morn­ing lark or night owl — sleep reg­u­lar­ity was the most con­sis­tently and strongly as­so­ci­ated with health,” LunsfordAvery said. “That un­der­scores the im­por­tance of it.”

Fu­ture stud­ies should look at the mech­a­nisms that con­nect sleep ir­reg­u­lar­ity and dis­ease risks, as well as the cause­an­d­ef­fect re­la­tion­ships, Lunsford-Avery said. In this on­go­ing long-term study, she and her col­leagues will con­tinue to eval­u­ate dis­ease risk fac­tors as they fol­low the par­tic­i­pants over time.

“When we think about sleep and health, we think about du­ra­tion or qual­ity, but not un­til re­cently did peo­ple look at the reg­u­lar­ity,” said An­drew McHill of the Ore­gon In­sti­tute of Oc­cu­pa­tional Health Sci­ences in Port­land, who wasn’t in­volved in the study.

Greater sleep ir­reg­u­lar­i­ty­was also as­so­ci­ated with a higher 10-year risk of heart dis­ease

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