Irregular sleep patterns linked to higher risk of metabolic disorders

An NHLBI-funded study found that an irregular sleep schedule might lead to metabolic disorders such as obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. The findings were published in the journal Diabetes Care

“Many previous studies have shown the link between insufficient sleep and higher risk of obesity, diabetes, and other metabolic disorders,” said study author Tianyi Huang, Sc.D., epidemiologist of the Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston. “But we didn't know much about the impact of irregular sleep, high day-to-day variability in sleep duration and timing. Our research shows that, even after considering the amount of sleep a person gets and other lifestyle factors, every one-hour night-to-night difference in the time to bed or the duration of a night's sleep multiplies the adverse metabolic effect.”

Fluctuating sleep patterns that lead to sleeping at different times of the day and night, and getting varied amounts of sleep, seem to cause the natural body clock to become misaligned. In fact, for every hour of variability in time to bed and time asleep, a person may have up to a 27% greater chance of experiencing a metabolic abnormality.