How’s Your Regularity – of Sleep?

A new study in Diabetes Care is telling us that irregular sleep patterns have a clear association with obesity and metabolic dysfunction. It’s more than just how much we sleep. In fact, this study is all about the regularity of sleep patterns. So does this mean that irregular sleeping patterns will cause obesity? Not exactly.

Correlation Doesn’t Equal Causality

It’s an old refrain, but somehow it slips from memory easily. Many factors influence the regularity of sleep patterns. Stressful situations at home, school, and work might top the list. With so many factors in play, it would be a mistake to assume that it’s a straight line from irregular sleep patterns to obesity.

As a matter of fact, a recent study in Obesity looked at the nature of the relationship between sleep and BMI. Kristine Marceau and colleagues examined these associations over time in children. They found that this is more likely a relationship that varies between people, not something that develops within individuals. As Marceau explains:

It’s more likely that other stable or habitual factors, like family routines or caregiver regulation of child health and habits lead to both better sleep and lower BMI.

Perhaps this is why we have not yet seen interventions for better sleep proving to help with obesity.

Importance of Regular Sleep

None of this is to suggest that sleep regularity is unimportant. It’s surely important. But there’s a lot going on in the relationship between sleep and health. Just like simplistic advice to “lose some weight” isn’t terribly helpful, “get more regular sleep” might not help much either.

When life gets complicated, sleep often suffers.

Click here for the study from Diabetes Care and here for the study from Obesity. For additional insight on how diet quality can interact with sleep quality, click here. Finally, you can find more information on sleep hygiene here.

Fallen, photograph © Erich Ferdinand / flickr

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June 8, 2019

One Response to “How’s Your Regularity – of Sleep?”

  1. June 14, 2019 at 1:29 pm, Andre@Mattress Insight said:

    Regular sufficient sleep is essential for everyone for both physical and mental health. Lack of sleep can cause weight gain, back pain, reduce brain performance, etc. Thank you for this valuable information.