“Social Jet Lag” Associated With Metabolic Disorders

Reducing stress is an important part of effective diabetes management, and getting enough sleep – 7 to 8 hours each night – is one practical way to reduce stress. But, that’s not the whole story with sleep and stress. It’s been known for some time that getting your sleep time in tune with your “biological clock” (circadian rhythm) is important too.

The negative effects of out-of-rhythm sleep patterns has been especially obvious in shift workers, most especially when work hours change periodically – swing shift. Lizmari Collazo wrote a post about night shifts last year. Now, a new study suggests that even occasional disruption of ideal sleeping patterns disrupts metabolism too. The researchers called this difference between sleep timing on workdays and days off “social jet lag” – going to bed later and sleeping later on non-work days. Technically, the researchers measured the difference between the participants’ sleep-time midpoint on work days versus free days. Those defined as having “social jet lag” woke up earlier and slept less on workdays. If that describes you (and probably almost everyone you know) then you understand the importance of this study. It monitored “sleep problems experienced routinely as part of modern work schedules.”

And what was the result? Those keeping a schedule that promoted “social jet lag” (all participants were “healthy” mid-life adults) showed lower levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol, higher triglycerides, higher levels of insulin resistance, and higher levels of body fat. The researched concluded succinctly that a “misalignment of sleep timing” is associated with metabolic factors related to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

I’ll remind you again not to dismiss studies that examine “healthy” participants where a higher risk for diabetes-related responses, like insulin resistance and heart disease indicators, are observed. Anything that disrupts the metabolism of healthy adults should be a special concern for those of us with disrupted metabolism already. And, sleep continues to gain importance in a complex relationship to overall health.

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