Your body prefers a regular pattern of sleep!
Do you realize how much your body appreciates routine?
The body seems to prefer that we be regular in our daily activities -- that we do the same activities, at the same time, every day.
Here's important new research that shows the health risks associated with being irregular, especially the risks of sleep irregularity.
This 2023 study was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.  Scientists found that people’s heart health is undermined if they have the habit of an irregular sleep pattern. The study involved more than 6800 men and women, ages 45-84 (average age 68).
Atherosclerosis of the heart is a serious condition that can lead to heart attack and other heart problems. Atherosclerosis is sometimes called: ‘hardening of the arteries’ — calcification and narrowing of blood vessels. When atherosclerosis narrows the arteries of the heart, it can be deadly.
Researchers discovered that atherosclerosis of the heart was more common in people who had a variable bedtime, and who slept for varying periods of time. For example, they might be shift workers, or simply people with the habit of staying up late on some nights but not on others. They didn't keep a regular bedtime! Surprisingly, this habit of irregular sleep timing is linked to atherosclerosis of the heart.
See more about sleep procrastination:
Another study, in 2020, showed similar findings.  People with an irregular sleep pattern were more likely to have a history of cardiovascular ‘events’ — heart attacks, angina, stroke. Again, the evidence shows that heart health is supported by keeping a consistent nightly pattern of sleep (same bedtime, same duration of sleep).
Sleep irregularity affects other body systems too. Here’s how the U.S. National Institutes of Health summarized a 2019 study  that investigated the health effects of irregular sleep patterns:
"Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol are more prevalent among irregular sleepers… A new study has found that not sticking to a regular bedtime and wakeup schedule — and getting different amounts of sleep each night — can put a person at higher risk for obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, high blood sugar and other metabolic disorders."
And, it's not only your body that appreciates regularity!
A 2018 British study investigated the daily activity patterns of more than 90,000 people.  Researchers used a device called an 'accelerometer' to record people's daily movement patterns. Participants wore the device for 7 days.
The device recorded their pattern of activity & rest, both during the day and at night too. Scientists measured the regularity of their daytime activity, and the regularity of their sleep pattern too. What was the sequence of their daily activity & rest? What was the 'rhythm' of their routine life?
As part of the study, participants also answered psychological tests.
Researchers discovered that people who lived a more variable or disrupted daily routine were more susceptible to unhappiness, loneliness and mood disorders.
By contrast, a routine repetitive pattern of daily activity & rest was associated with better, happier mental health.
These results suggest that keeping a consistent daily pattern of activity & rest might help people support their mental health.
Suggestion: When you’re going through a time of difficult or unstable mood, help yourself stabilize by following with a regular pattern of daily activity. Follow a routine sequence of meaningful daily activities — simple & practical actions that you do every day, even when your mood is low or you're experiencing anxiety or self-doubt. A regular bedtime is part of such a regular daily routine too.
Follow with this consistent pattern of daily activity for at least several days. You might be surprised to find that this willingness to follow a daily routine helps to stabilize your emotional life. That's the suggestion of this research: your physical and mental health is supported by keeping a regular pattern of sleep and daily life.
To your natural happiness!
1. Sleep Irregularity and Subclinical Markers of Cardiovascular Disease: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis; Kelsie M. Full et al ; Journal of the American Heart Association 2 023
2. Sleep Irregularity and Risk of Cardiovascular Events: The Multi- Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis ; Tianyi Huang et al ; J Am Coll Cardiol. 2020 March
3. Cross-sectional and Prospective Associations of Actigraphy- Assessed Sleep Regularity With Metabolic Abnormalities: The Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis; Tianyi Huang et al.; Diabetes Care 2019
4. Association of disrupted circadian rhythmicity with mood disorders, subjective wellbeing, and cognitive function: a cross-sectional study of 91 105 participants from the UK Biobank; Laura M. Lyall et al.; Lancet Psychiatry 2018 June