Getting adequate beauty rest may actually be important for your health after all.
A new study out of Georgia has found that having a consistent and steady sleep schedule can help slow down the biological aging process.
The research, published in the journal Sleep Health last month, concluded that those who had inconsistent sleeping patterns had a higher biological age compared to those with a regular sleep schedule.
While biological age tests can be controversial, one expert says they are an astute indication of the amount of “damage” that has gone on inside of your body.
The test aims to measure the rate at which your body is aging by examining how old your cells are.
In this study, researchers from Augusta University looked at the sleep patterns of more than 6,000 participants from the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey taken during the years 2011 to 2014.
In the survey, participants, who averaged age 50, wore a sleep tracker for four to seven days, which logged the amount of time they slept and other markers, like regularity, per Earth.com.
Participants also answered a questionnaire pertaining to their lifestyle habits.
In order to determine participants’ biological ages, the scientists analyzed their blood samples, which gave way to various markers of their health, like cholesterol levels, diabetes and kidney disease.
Around 65% of the study’s participants slept for seven to nine hours per night, while 16% slept under seven hours. A small amount, 19%, slept over nine hours.
While being observed, they noticed that, on average, participants got an extra 78 minutes of sleep on the weekend, and their bedtimes only varied by 60 minutes each night.
They found that people who had the biggest differences in their bedtimes and amount of sleep they got during the week compared to the weekend had the highest biological age.
They specifically discovered that people who were the most flexible and loose in their sleep schedules had a biological age that was nine months older than those who had a consistent schedule.
“We found that larger sleep variability, more catch-up sleep, larger sleep irregularity and more social jetlag were associated with more advanced biological aging, as measured by the three algorithms based on clinical markers,” the study’s authors wrote.
The authors claimed that this is the first study of its kind measuring sleep and its relationship to biological aging.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, a lack of consistent sleep can also affect your heart health, as it can take a toll on your stress hormones, which, in turn, can cause an increase in blood pressure.
It can also impact cognitive abilities and mental health.
The study’s authors also noted that there is a correlation between sleep patterns and living a long, heathy life.
“Since day-to-day deviation in sleep is a modifiable behavioral factor, our finding suggests that intervention aiming at increasing regularity in sleep patterns may be a novel approach for extending a healthy life span,” the study’s authors wrote.
Dr. Debi Johnson is a medical expert and health journalist dedicated to promoting well-being. With a background in medicine, she offers evidence-based insights into health trends and wellness practices. Beyond her reporting, Dr. Debi enjoys hiking, yoga, and empowering others to lead healthier lives.