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Changes to One’s Sleeping Cycle can increase Risk of Diabetes, Heart Disease

Update Date: Nov 19, 2015 11:31 AM EST
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Sleeping and waking up at around the same time everyday is a habit everyone should practice.

According to a new study, researchers found that changes to a sleeping cycle can increase risk of type 2 diabetes and heart disease. For this study, the team recruited 447 participants between the ages of 30 and 54 whose work schedule took them out of the house for at least 25 hours per week. The participants were given a wristband that kept track of their sleeping and movement patterns 24/7. Questionnaires were also used to collect additional information on the participants' physical activity levels and eating patterns.

The team found that 85 percent of the participants slept longer hours when they did not have to go to work. The remaining group of participants woke up earlier on off days than on days wheb they had to go to work.

After examining the participants' health, they found that those who had more drastic changes in their sleeping patterns, which the team described as "social jetlag," between off and workdays were more likely to have poorer cholesterol and fasting insulin levels. They also tended to have greater insulin resistance, bigger waist size and higher body mass index (BMI), which is a measurement of obesity.

The team then accounted for factors, such as exercise and nutrition and found that the link between changes in sleeping schedule and poorer health was still significant.

"Social jetlag refers to the mismatch between an individual's biological circadian rhythm [body clock] and their socially imposed sleep schedules. Other researchers have found that social jetlag relates to obesity and some indicators of cardiovascular function," study author Patricia Wong, of the University of Pittsburgh, said in a news release reported by WebMD. "However, this is the first study to extend upon that work and show that even among healthy, working adults who experience a less extreme range of mismatches in their sleep schedule, social jetlag can contribute to metabolic problems."

The team explained that these metabolic issues can then lead to the development of health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The researchers argued that even though they did not find a cause-and-effect relationship, people should still consider trying to keep their sleeping schedule the same every day.

The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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