A new study found that sleep regularity is a stronger indication of premature death than sleep duration. The results mean that targeting regular sleep patterns, such as following a consistent bedtime and wakeup time, can improve our overall health.
The study concluded that adults with a regular sleep schedule and sufficient sleep duration had a 39% lower mortality risk than adults with an irregular sleep schedule and insufficient sleep duration. The data analysis took into account sociodemographic factors, lifestyle, health status and measures of major sleep disorders.
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Compared to sleeping eight hours a night on an irregular schedule, sleeping six hours a night on a consistent sleep/wake schedule was associated with a lower risk of early death.
“Our study found that objectively regular sleepers tend to outlive objectively irregular sleepers regardless of major sleep disorders.,” said lead author Joon Chung, research fellow in the division of sleep and circadian disorders at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “Results suggest benefits of expanding the public conversation on getting ‘a good night’s sleep’ and broadening this goal to getting many goods nights of sleep, in a row, on weekdays and weekends.”
According to Sleep 2024, healthy sleep is characterized by adequate duration, appropriate timing, good quality, regularity, and the absence of sleep disturbance or disorder. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and Sleep Research Society recommend that adults should sleep 7 or more hours nightly on a regular basis for optimal health.
The study involved 1,759 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis Sleep Study, who were followed for a median of seven years, Sleep regularity and duration were measured for seven days using wrist actigraphy, a noninvasive technique that monitors cycles of activity and rest. There were 176 deaths during the study period.
“If sleep were an eight-hour pill, it would be beneficial to take the full dose at regular times, consistently,” Chung said.
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