Happy Wednesday! We’re halfway through the week and I bet you’re looking forward to your weekend to get caught up on your rest and enjoy yourself. However, if you have plans to sleep in, you may need to reconsider.
I like to use my weekends as an opportunity to kick back with friends and loved ones, do the things I may have had to put off during the week, and maybe break my regular routine by staying up or sleeping in a little later than usual.
The latter is something I know a lot of people tend to do on the weekends and you likely do, too. It’s normal to break your usual sleeping pattern on your days off; after all there’s no need to get up at the crack of dawn if you don’t feel like it, right? Wrong. As I recently found out, my weekend sleeping habits could end up threatening my health.
You’ve likely heard time and time again that you should aim for six to eight hours of uninterrupted sleep per 24 hours. But does it matter when you get that sleep? According to a new Korean study, it does.
How Sleeping Patterns Affect Your Health
Night owls tend to experience higher incidences of health problems than morning people. Those who go to bed early and are “morning types” are far less likely to have diabetes or show markers of metabolic syndrome.
For this study, researchers recruited 1,620 men and women between the ages of 47 and 59 and had them fill out a questionnaire to assess whether they were morning people or night owls. After analyzing the data, researchers determined 480 of the subjects were morning people, 95 were night owls, and the overwhelming majority—1,045—fit into neither grouping.
Each participant had their blood glucose tolerance, body composition, and waist size assessed. After controlling for a number of variables, the researchers determined that men who were night owls were significantly more likely to have diabetes, while women were more than twice as likely to have metabolic syndrome. This means they had high blood sugar levels, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal lipid readings.
Although only a very small percentage of subjects were determined to be night owls, this is not the first piece of research to show adverse impacts of adopting an unnatural circadian rhythm. The good news is that most people seem to have their sleep patterns in a normal range.
Tips for Adjusting Your Sleeping Habits
If you’re a night person and want to improve your health by getting to bed and waking earlier, there are some adjustments you can make. Your sleep schedule is not predetermined; there are things you can do to control it.
The most important step is to maintain consistency. When the clock strikes 9:00 p.m., I’d advise shutting off the television, computer, smartphone, and tablet. Turn the lights down and begin a period of relaxation: read a book, take a bath, set out your clothes for tomorrow, etc. These kinds of things signal that it’s time to shut down, leaving your body with no choice but to respond. Set your alarm for 20 minutes earlier than it was yesterday, and follow that pattern every day until you’re waking up between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m.
Although it may seem unnecessary, keeping to your schedule on the weekend is important. Staying up late and sleeping in, even for a couple of days, can make it difficult to get back on track by the time Monday rolls around. You can end up falling into a sleep deficit pattern that can have significant health impacts. As difficult as it may seem, sticking to a routine, regardless of what day of the week it is, is ideal and could prevent you from developing metabolic syndrome or worse.
Source for Today’s Article:
Yu, J.H., et al., “Evening Chronotype Is Associated With Metabolic Disorders and Body Composition in Middle-Aged Adults,” The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 2015; 100(4): 1,494–1,502.