The weekend is now within reach. You can almost hear the silence of your alarm. You can almost feel the warmth of your covers at noon.
Well, to all of you sleeping-in lovers, we've got some bad news: According to a new study published in the Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, drastic changes to your sleep cycle may be increasing your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Researchers examined sleep patterns and cardiometabolic risk in a group of 447 men and women between the ages of 30 and 54 who worked at least 25 hours a week outside the home. Participants wore a wristband that measured their movement and sleep 24 hours a day for a week, and filled out questionnaires to assess their diet and exercise habits.
The participants who showed a greater difference in their sleep schedules on work days compared to days off were more likely to have a larger waist circumference, higher body mass index, higher fasting insulin levels and poorer cholesterol profiles. Almost 85% had a later halfway point in their sleep cycle — a measurement known as "midsleep" — on their free days compared to when they had to work.
"Social jetlag refers to the mismatch between an individual's biological circadian rhythm and their socially-imposed sleep schedules," explained Dr. Patricia Wong, from the University of Pittsburgh, in a press release. "This is the first study to show that even among healthy, working adults who experience a less extreme range of mismatches in their sleep schedule, social jetlag can contribute to metabolic problems.
"These can contribute to the development of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease."
So, what should we do? Wake up at the same time everyday no matter if we're working or not (hopefully that means later — and not earlier — across the board)?
"We may need to consider as a society how work and social obligations affect our sleep and health," said Wong.
Great. As expected, it's a deeply ingrained societal issue. The whole of humanity needs to evolve. That shouldn't take long, right?