Irregular Sleep Makes for Bad Metabolic Health in Women

Women who frequently shift around their sleeping hours could have worse metabolic health outcomes than their peers who stick with a regular sleep schedule, according to new research.

Greater variability in bedtime - and also going to bed later - was associated with higher rates of insulin resistance and a higher BMI, the study found.

Additionally, women who stayed up two hours past their normal bedtime were also more likely to have insulin resistance 5 years later.

"This study emphasizes the important health benefits of keeping a regular sleep schedule," said Dr. Nathaniel Watson, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.

Differences in weekend and weekday sleep can wreak havoc

Researchers also found that large differences in bedtime on work nights vs. the weekends contributed to impaired glucose regulation in the women they studied.

However, a recent study from the University of Chicago found that getting "catch-up" sleep over the weekend may reduce risk for type 2 diabetes.

Irregular bedtimes, the authors explained, expose the body to varying levels of light - which disrupt inherent circadian rhythms that regulate the body's metabolic processes.

According to study investigator Martica Hall, PhD, professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh, diabetes risk increases in midlife women.

"Our study suggests that irregular sleep schedules may be an important piece of this puzzle," Hall said. "The good news is that sleep timing is a modifiable behavior. Metabolic health was better in women who had more regular sleep schedules, including regular bedtimes across weekdays and weekends."

Source: American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Image courtesy of Feelart/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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