Why a consistent sleep schedule is important for your health

An inconsistent sleep schedule can upset your gut bacteria and affect your health long-term.

 Can't sleep because of the heat? (illustrative) (photo credit: PEXELS)
Can't sleep because of the heat? (illustrative)
(photo credit: PEXELS)

An inconsistent sleep schedule can be detrimental to your health and is associated with gut micro-bacteria, according to a new study published on Wednesday..

The study was published in the European Journal of Nutrition, a peer-reviewed medical journal focused on nutrition science.

The study highlights a sleep-related phenomenon known as social jetlag (SJL). Sleepcycle.com describes SJL as “the habit of having two separate, distinct sleeping patterns.” It goes on to explain the SJL is often the result of having “very separate weekday and weekend routines, although it can of course occur in other circumstances as well.”

The study aimed to examine the effect SJL has on other dimensions of health. In the paper, the researchers state their purpose as to “explore the relationship between social jetlag (SJL), a parameter of circadian misalignment, and gut microbial composition, diet, and cardiometabolic health.”

For the purpose of the study, the researchers measured SJL as the difference in time between the midpoints of the subjects’ sleep on weekdays and on weekends. For example, if the midpoint of one’s sleep was 4 a.m. on the weekend vs 2 a.m. on a weekday, that would be a difference of two hours.

 Mix of dried fruit and nuts (illustrative). (credit: PIXABAY)
Mix of dried fruit and nuts (illustrative). (credit: PIXABAY)

Researchers found that even a 90-minute difference in the two times could lead to significant changes in gut bacteria, dietary habits and quality, inflammation, and gut microbial composition.  

Consistent sleep is important for health

These changes can be caused by even a small degree of misalignment in one's sleep schedule, this could have long-term effects and cause chronic non-communicable diseases.

The best remedy remains a healthy regular sleep schedule, but if that is not possible due to social constraints such as work schedules, then there are some other solutions. 

One of these is eating a more healthy diet which could include avoiding potatoes, and sugary drinks, as well as fewer fruits and nuts.