How 8 hours' sleep is POINTLESS unless you have a regular bedtime

At least, that's the conclusion of a new study which says that catching those hard-fought eight hours kip is irrelevant if you go to bed and wake up at different times regularly.

There's a tonne of research to suggest that sleep deprivation can heighten our chances of getting fatter and developing type 2 diabetes, insulin resistance, high blood pressure and heart disease.

A two-year worldwide study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation found that teens needed between eight and ten hours a night, while adults really should be aiming for between seven and nine.

But the NHS has said that it's the quality and regularity of those hours that matters – and that regular poor sleep can shorten your life expectancy.

"An occasional night without sleep makes you feel tired and irritable the next day, but it won't harm your health," the NHS said.

"If it continues, lack of sleep can affect your overall health and make you prone to serious medical conditions, such as obesity, heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes."

Scientists from Duke University Medical Center looked at the sleeping patterns of almost 2,000 adults aged 54-93 who had no previous history of sleeping disorders to establish the link between bedtime patterns and the calculated 10-year risk of developing various diseases.

They all wore sleep tracking devises for seven days and kept sleep diaries.

Experts found that those volunteers with irregular bedtimes had a higher body mass index (BMI), higher levels of blood sugar, higher blood pressure and were more likely to have a heart attack or stroke in the following decade than those who had regular sleep patterns.

Those who went to bed but woke up regularly in the night also had a higher risk of depression and stress than sounder sleepers.

"Sleep irregularity may represent a target for early identification and prevention of cardiometabolic disease," the study concluded.

However, Dr Jessica Lunsford-Avery, who led the study, said that they couldn't conclude that "sleep irregularity results in health risks, or whether health conditions affect sleep. Perhaps all of these things are impacting each other".

BED TIMES What time should I sleep each night, how much do I need and my children need for their age?

"Perhaps there's something about obesity that disrupts sleep regularity," she stated.

"Or, as some research suggests, perhaps poor sleep interferes with the body's metabolism which can lead to weight gain, and it's a vicious cycle."

Either way, the study goes some way to establishing who is at risk of developing serious and potentially life-threatening cardiometabolic conditions.

Last year, a study reported that "social jet lag" – sleeping and waking up at different times on the weekends than during the week – can raise the risk of heart disease.


So this is just another reason to prioritise your sleep.

Set yourself a realistic bedtime and stick to it – and make sure that you're not hitting the snooze button at the other end.

There's nothing that really needs to be done at 11pm that can't be done at 8am.

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