For many adults, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule amid the demands of work, family, and social commitments is a challenge. However, recent research conducted at Augusta University in Georgia suggests that this variability in its patterns could be linked to accelerated biological aging.
According to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately one in three American adults report not getting enough sleep regularly. Prior studies have already associated sleep deprivation with various mental and physical health issues, including heart disease, stroke, obesity, and dementia. Surprisingly, catch-up sleep and irregular sleep patterns might not provide the body with the benefits previously believed.
The Augusta University study published in the journal Sleep Health, analyzed data from 6,052 adults who participated in the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey between 2011 and 2014. Researchers assessed parameters such as the duration, efficiency, and regularity, along with physiological markers of biological aging.
This is not the first instance where scientific research has cast doubt on the merits of a weekend lie-in. Previous studies have linked social jetlag and attempts to compensate for lost sleep with impaired cognitive performance, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and mood disorders. The primary suspect behind these negative outcomes appears to be the disruption of our internal circadian rhythm.
Our bodies rely on a complex system of internal clocks, regulated by various external and internal factors. The primary pacemaker, located in the brain, resets each morning through exposure to light. However, when our bodies experience daylight at varying times daily, our internal clocks can fall out of sync, potentially impacting various bodily functions.