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Why going to bed at the same time every night is beneficial

Regular bedtime schedules have been proven to be important for children and help to maintain a healthy sleep/wake pattern, which is crucial for a child’s development.

But now, a new study has found that regular sleep schedules aren’t just for children, and adults benefit from having a regular bedtime as well.

Researchers from the Duke University Medical Center and Duke Clinical Research Institute conducted the study which was published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The results show how important regular and sufficient sleep are to heart and metabolic health in adults.

The researchers found that people who had irregular sleeping patterns were heavier, had higher blood sugar, and were more likely to have a stroke or heart attack within ten years. Irregular sleep patterns also correlated with an increase in stress and depression.

For the study, 1,978 older adults between 54 and 93 years old were given devices that tracked sleep schedules and the researchers changed bedtime routines from 10:00 pm to 10:10pm.

The devices also tracked the duration of a person’s sleep and the participants were surveyed about their bedtime habits (if they liked to sleep in or not).

There was a definite association between irregular sleeping habits and heart and metabolic health risks. The researchers note that the study results don’t prove that poor sleep is the cause of health problems like obesity or cardiovascular disease, only that there was a link between the two.

“From our study, we can’t conclude that sleep irregularity results in health risks, or whether health conditions affect sleep,” said Jessica Lunsford-Avery, the lead author of the study. “Perhaps all of these things are impacting each other. With more research, we hope to understand what’s going on biologically, and perhaps then we could say what’s coming first or which is the chicken and which is the egg.”

The researchers did find that regular sleep pattern was also the best predictor of heart and metabolic disease risk which means that future prevention method and treatments should consider the benefits of a healthy sleep schedule.

“Heart disease and diabetes are extremely common in the United States, are extremely costly and also are leading causes of death in this country,” said Lunsford-Avery. “To the extent we can predict individuals at risk for these diseases, we may be able to prevent or delay their onset.”

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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