We all know that sleeping for seven to nine hours a day is essential to maintain our health but we tend to forget that our sleeping routine is equally important. The erratic sleeping routine followed by young people, disrupts the body’s circadian rhythm, which is the daily cycle in the physiological rhythm, cell regeneration and production of hormone. This leaves your body tired and sleeping during the day. According to a new research, following a regular sleep pattern at night is essential for staying alert during the day. The study conducted at Harvard University revealed that you squander the benefits of sleeping for about eight hours by not adhering to a fixed time each night. However, you can compensate the shortage of sleep by following a regular bed time. It is important to fix a time to go to bed and wake up.
The experts at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Harvard, observed 61 undergraduates for a period of one month noting down the information about their timing and quality of sleep. According to the scientists, the effect of varying bedtime is similar to the jet lag caused after transatlantic flight. The more you change your bedtime pattern, the more the circadian rhythm gets out of sync and you tend to sleep at irregular times more. The scientists said that compensating for the sleep missed during exam by sleeping more does not help. According to Charles Czeisler, co-author of the study and an expert on sleep medicine, during the study, the exams and classes were scheduled at 9 am but as per the body clock of the students who followed irregular sleep routine the exams and classes were happening at 6 am, when the body is not performing at its best. The study found that the performance of the students who slept and woke up at approximately same time every day was better as compared to those who didn’t.
The circadian rhythm of the participating students was measured during the study by measuring the melatonin levels. Melatonin is a hormone that induces sleep. The scientists working in the study believed that the body cycle of the irregular sleepers gets delayed as the cycle is influenced by natural light and they do not get sufficient amount of light during the day. Also, they are under artificial light for longer duration at night. According to Andrew Phillips, who was the study lead, regular sleepers receive high amount of natural light during the day as compared to the students who had irregular sleep pattern.
Previous studies have already proved that shortage of sleep is connected to early mortality due to cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity as well as cognitive impairment. This recent research showed that sleep timing is also important. People who have rotating shifts at work have higher risk of cancer and heart disease. Doctors also think that the artificial light from your laptop and smart phones plays a role in suppressing the production of melatonin and is among the leading causes of insomnia.