Many aspects of our health and our lifestyle impact heart disease and the risk factors for heart disease. An effective way to think of this is for each of us to consider our body as an ecosystem in which everything is linked and can impact everything else.
Sleep is essential to health in many ways. A new study was conducted to look at the impact and effects of what's known as social jet lag (SJL). In the context of this study, SJL was defined as following one sleep schedule on workdays and another on days off from work. Social jet lag is known to upset the body's biological clock or circadian rhythm.
Patricia Wong, lead study author, stated:
"Social jet lag is a habitual form of circadian misalignment, when individuals have to essentially sleep and wake at times that are out of sync from their internal, biological clock and shift back and forth in their sleep schedules due to social obligations."2
The study authors concluded:
"In summary, the current study presents the first evidence that behaviorally quantified SJL is related to a cluster of metabolic risk factors in midlife adults. Our results, along with other recent reports, suggest that a misalignment of the biological and socially influenced sleep timing is an additional factor contributing to risk for developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, and atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and highlight the potential for sleep and circadian-focused interventions in preventative health care."1
What This Means for Patients
While the results of this study don't prove that social jet lag causes heart disease, it strongly points to it as a risk factor and a topic for more research. In the meantime, there is plenty of evidence supporting the importance of good quality sleep on a regular schedule to overall health. Taking a good look at our sleep schedule and quality of sleep certainly can't hurt.
1 Wong, Patricia M.; Hasler, Brant P.; Kamarck, Thomas W. Muldoon, Matthew F.; Manuck, Stephen B. "Social Jetlag, Chronotype, and Cardiometabolic Risk."
2 Reuters. "'Social jet lag' linked to risk of diabetes and heart disease." Foxnews.com. December 10, 2015.