A new study on sleep patterns suggests that a regular bedtime and wake time are just as important for heart and metabolic health among older adults as sufficient sleep.
In a study of 1,978 older adults publishing Sept. 21. 2018 in the journal Scientific Reports, researchers at Duke Health and the Duke Clinical Research Institute found people with irregular sleep patterns weighed more, had higher blood sugar, higher blood pressure, and a higher projected risk of having a heart attack or stroke within 10 years than those who slept and woke at the same times every day.
Irregular sleepers were also more likely to report depression and stress than regular sleepers, both of which are tied to heart health.
The study also tracked the duration of participants' sleep and preferred timing -- whether someone turned in early or was a night owl. According to these measures, people with hypertension tended to sleep more hours, and people with obesity tended to stay up later.
Of all three measures, however, regularity was the best at predicting someone's heart and metabolic disease risk, the researchers found.