What do you think about this research?
After comparing the participants’ sleep schedules on workdays with that of free days, Wong’s team found that those who woke up early for working days and then had a long sleep during day offs were more likely to have worse cholesterol levels, larger waist circumference, higher BMI and greater insulin resistance. However, the new research suggests that even getting up late on weekends could be bad for health.
Wong said this study was the first to extend the investigation into the link of social jetlag on healthy people, and revealed that the condition can cause problems even among healthy working adults. This is called social jetlag.
In a report published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, researchers from the University of Pittsburgh looked into the mismatch between a person’s internal body clock and their social schedules. In short, sleeping more and later on weekends, but not matching up with those times on the weekdays, can lead to health problems over time. Past studies had also linked social jet lag with high risk of obesity, heart disease, and stroke.
Prior to this research, several studies show that disrupting the so-called “body clock” could suppress the immune system. “Other researchers have found that social jetlag relates to obesity and a few indicators of cardiovascular function”, Wong said in a news release from the Endocrine Society. For instance, fat accumulation in tissues, food absorption in the gut, and insulin secretion in the pancreas and liver all show tissue-specific circadian rhythms, the authors note.
The association found in this study has not proved a cause and effect type of relationship exists between the inconsistency of sleep habits and developing diabetes or heart disease. For each individual, the seven day period would include at least one night before a day off, so that the team could see how not having to work the next day affected an individual’s sleep pattern.
“There could be benefits to clinical interventions focused on circadian disturbances, workplace education to help employees and their families make informed decisions about structuring their schedules, and policies to encourage employers to consider these issues”, Wong concluded.
They wore a wristband that measured their movement and sleep 24 hours a day for a week. Social jetlag is a mismatch in between a person’s socially-imposed rest timetable and also their natural circadian rhythm.
Researchers also took blood samples and used questionnaires to gather data on the participants’ exercise and diet habits.
Patricia Wong warned about the possible implications of these kind of studies, stating that if these results replicate, it may be time to reconsider as a society how our work and social obligations are affecting our health. As the sleep debt increased so did the health problems.