Irregular sleeping habits have already been linked to cancer in a study earlier this year, but a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism insists that sleeping in every now and then can result in metabolism problems such as a higher body mass index and insulin resistance. In summary, the study suggests that regular shifts in sleep patterns can trigger health problems such as cardiovascular problems and diabetes.
The human body has internal clocks that enable one to sleep naturally. Bodily functions such as food absorption and insulin secretion have circadian rhythms that would do best not to be interrupted.
More than 400 healthy middle-aged people were tracked during the course of the study. Those who slept in on weekends to compensate for shorter sleep hours during the week were more likely to have certain health problems. A greater difference between workday and free-day sleeping habits pointed to greater metabolic health concerns, according to Ars Technica.
The study’s author Patricia Wong noted in a report on WebMD that social jetlag is responsible for some of the health challenges relating to sleep, saying, “Social jetlag refers to the mismatch between an individual’s biological circadian rhythm [body clock] and their socially imposed sleep schedules.”
“Social jetlag refers to the mismatch between an individual’s biological circadian rhythm [body clock] and their socially imposed sleep schedules. Other researchers have found that social jetlag relates to obesity and some indicators of cardiovascular function.”
While the study could not ascertain a direct cause-and-effect relationship between sleeping in and the development of heart problems, obesity, and diabetes, it was the first study to conclusively demonstrate that healthy, middle-aged people who suffer from social jetlag are more likely to have difficulties with their metabolisms.
Wong asserted that further examination of how working life and social life may affect our sleep and health may be necessary. In our fast-paced world, “sleep debt” may become a growing concern for those whose social obligations and work commitments are heavy.