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Sleep is a vital aspect of all human health. Adults with irregular sleep patterns may be at greater risk for depression, high blood pressure, and heart disease, among other risks. According to a recent study in Scientific Reports, going to sleep and waking up at a consistent time was associated with lower risk. However, this study could not conclude that sleep irregularity resulted in health risks, or whether health conditions affect sleep. In the study, 2,000 adults between the ages of 54 and 93 were asked to keep track of their sleep schedules. The results demonstrated that even subtle changes in sleep patterns could negatively impact health.

Even more interesting, results show that adults who got a good night’s sleep were at higher risk of disease if they did not go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time. Even a few minutes of difference from night to night was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease.

This result implies that sleep irregularity may be a risk factor for cardiac disease. Prior studies suggest that messing with your sleep-wake cycle disrupts energy metabolism, glucose metabolism, the timing of food intake, and stress levels, all of which impact heart health.

Some indices of sleep irregularity can be adjusted easily, such as falling asleep and waking up at the same time; however, there are also disruptions that you may be oblivious to. Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts. Snoring loudly and the sensation of feeling tired after a full night’s sleep are possible indications of sleep apnea.

Virginia Gay Hospital has achieved the highest level of sleep study accreditation and can conduct studies from the comfort of your own home. If you or a loved one are suffering from poor sleep, talk to your primary care provider regarding those issues. If you would like to learn more about sleep studies at Virginia Gay, click here.

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Click this link to view the study published in Scientific Reports.