Researchers explained that abrupt shifts in sleeping schedules such as waking up early on workdays and sleeping in on day offs disrupt your body’s natural rhythms and may boost risk of diabetes and other chronic disease.
The study, which was based on data on more than 400 participants with the average age of 42 that reported they were working at least 25 hours outside their homes. Volunteers were asked to wear a device that measured how long they slept, when they went to bed, and how much they moved over the course of 24 hours.
Study participants were also surveyed on their physical activity, overall health, and diet. It was no surprise that 85 percent of volunteers involved in the study slept longer when they didn’t have to go to work. A small group of participants usually woke up earlier on weekends than on workdays.
Researchers noticed that catching up on lost sleep over the weekend was not harmful by itself. Instead, the large differences from workdays to day offs were hazardous to health. Study authors found that these differences increased bad cholesterol, triggered a stronger insulin resistance, which may lead to diabetes on the long run, promoted weight gain and larger waistline. Unchecked weight gain and insulin resistance can cause type 2 diabetes later on, researchers explained.
Scientists said that negative health outcomes persisted even after they adjusted their findings for other risk factors that may trigger similar outcomes. The team reported that when they adjusted results for exercise and calorie intake the link between disruption in sleep schedules and risk of chronic disease was still significant.
Scientists have even a term for the disruption – “social jet lag.” This jet lag appears when one’s biological circadian do not overlap with their sleep schedules required by society. Past studies had linked social jet lag with weight gain, obesity, and some mild forms of cardiovascular disease.
Patricia Wong, lead author of the study and researcher with the University of Pittsburgh, told reporters that the new study was the first to prove that even in healthy people that do not necessarily work in shifts social jet lag may lead to metabolic issues.
Wong added that the metabolic issues could later translate into diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. Nevertheless, Wong admitted that her team didn’t find a cause-and-effect association between social jet lag and the onset of chronic disease.
The study was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
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