Natural Health News — Women who have more regular sleep schedules, including regular bedtimes across weekdays and weekends, have better metabolic health, says a new study.
Conversely those whose sleep schedules are highly variable risk poor glucose metabolism and energy homeostasis — the balance between food intake and energy expenditure – according to the researchers.
‘Irregular sleep schedules, including highly variable bedtimes and staying up much later than usual, are associated in midlife women with insulin resistance, which is an important indicator of metabolic health, including diabetes risk,’ said senior author Martica Hall, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania, US.
» Diabetes risk increases as women age and a new study suggests that irregular sleep patterns may contribute to that risk.
» The researchers found that a pattern of irregular bed times and getting less sleep than you regular need raised the risk poor glucose metabolism and energy homeostasis — the balance between food intake and energy expenditure.
» The association was strong enough that researchers were able to predict which women might develop an increase in insulin resistance as much as 5 years down the line.
In addition to sleeping seven or more hours per night on a regular basis, adults should strive to maintain a consistent schedule by going to bed and waking up at the same times on weekdays and weekends, the researchers stressed.
Rising diabetes risk
The research team analysed data from the SWAN Sleep Study – an ancillary project to the Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN) – which included 370 non-shift working women of multiple ethnicities between the ages of 48 and 58 years.
Results show that greater variability in bedtime and greater bedtime delay were associated with higher insulin resistance, and greater bedtime advance was associated with higher body mass index (BMI), the findings, published in the journal Sleep, revealed.
The analysis also showed that greater bedtime delay – for example, staying up 2 hours later than usual – could help researcher predict which women might suffer from an increase in insulin resistance as much as 5 years later.
Disrupting the body clock
“The results are important because diabetes risk increases in midlife women,” said Hall. “Our study suggests that irregular sleep schedules may be an important piece of this puzzle. The good news is that sleep timing is a modifiable behaviour. Metabolic health was better in women who had more regular sleep schedules, including regular bedtimes across weekdays and weekends.”
According to the authors, irregular bedtime schedules expose the body to varying levels of light, which is the most important timing cue for the body’s circadian clock.
The authors suggest that there is still more to know and that future studies of sleep timing and metabolic health should examine potential mechanisms including melatonin as well as other hormones that are relevant to metabolic health and sensitive to circadian misalignment, including leptin, ghrelin and cortisol.
Having trouble sleeping? See out article How to get a good night’s sleep
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