What did they test? The researchers looked at a large cohort of individuals over a few years to understand the relationship between sleep regularity and all-cause mortality.
What did they find? Sleep regularity was a greater predictor of all-cause mortality than sleep duration.
What does it mean for you? In addition to sleeping 7-9 hours per day, ensure that you’re sleeping and waking at similar times as that may play an important role in your health.
What’s the Problem?
Sleep: arguably one of the best things you can do not only for recovery and muscle growth, but for your health in general. Despite everyone being aware of the importance of sleep, it is still something a lot of people struggle with, especially when it comes to their overall sleep duration. Numerous studies have previously looked at sleep duration, exploring its relationship with risk for a plethora of health conditions and all-cause mortality 1. Previous meta-analyses have painted a relatively “complex” picture, associating both too little and too much sleep with an increased risk of all-cause mortality, falling outside the coveted 7 to 9 hours range, with elevated risks for all-cause mortality 2.
While sleep duration has long been at the forefront of sleep health guidelines, sleep regularity—the day-to-day consistency in our sleep-wake timing, is likely also important for health. Evidence now suggests that sleep regularity might wield a more potent influence on certain health outcomes than just the duration of our sleep 3. Longitudinal studies have shown links between irregular sleep patterns and adverse cardiometabolic outcomes, aging, mood, and compromised quality of life 3. Erratic environmental stimuli, from varying light exposure to haphazardly timed activities like exercise and meals can cause disruption in circadian rhythm, with negative consequences for our well-being.
Although a lot of the research on sleep and its effects on health and all cause mortality does not directly examine sleep’s relationship with muscle and fitness gains, being healthy and functioning “optimally” can profoundly affect your performance and recovery in and out of the gym.
When it comes to sleep recommendations, they’re usually focused on the duration of one’s sleep while recently the importance of sleep regularity has started to be highlighted. Sleep regularity seems like a potentially important variable in ensuring you’re healthy, but how does it stack against sleep duration? Is sleeping longer or maintaining a regular sleep schedule more important? This study by Windred et al looked at sleep regularity and sleep duration and their relationship with all-cause mortality. Let’s dive in!