Science Says Having a Regular Bedtime Is Healthy for Adults, Too

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There’s no shortage of research touting the importance of getting enough sleep.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests adults need at least seven hours of sleep a night. Consistently failing to meet that goal can result in an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and memory loss.
According to the National Institutes of Health, poor sleep can also increase the risk of slowed reaction times, irritability, anxiety, obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Despite these consequences, the CDC reports that 1 in 3 American adults struggle to get the sleep they need — which might make the latest news in sleep research all the more concerning.
Many people know about the importance of maintaining consistent bedtimes for children. Kids who have optimal bedtime routines have been found to perform better in tests of executive function, working memory, inhibition, attention, and cognitive flexibility. They also score higher in school readiness and have better dental health.
But it turns out it’s not just children who benefit from going to sleep at roughly the same time every night.
New research published in the journal Scientific Reports points to adults not only needing to get enough sleep every night, but also needing to maintain consistent sleep routines.
The research
Study participants wore devices meant to track sleep schedules down to the minute so researchers could evaluate the impact of sleep regularity, duration, and preferred sleep timing. What they found was an association between sleep irregularity and chronic health problems.
Lead study author Jessica Lunsford-Avery, PhD, assistant professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine, told Healthline that the study actually looked beyond bedtimes to examine the regularity of an individual’s sleep-wake patterns on a minute-to-minute basis over the 24-hour day.
“The more irregular these sleep patterns, the higher the risk for obesity, hypertension, and elevated blood sugar, and the higher the projected risk of developing heart disease over the next decade,” she said.
On the flip side, she explained, “This suggests that keeping bed and wake times as consistent as possible may have benefits for health.”