Recently I caught a story on Yahoo Finance about the analysis of more than six billion nights of sleep data released from FitBit. We all think about sleep in almost abstract terms–I sleep or I don’t, I’m sleepy or I’m not, etc. But this has a real, tangible effect on how we operate as humans and how we perform at work, at home, and elsewhere. For instance, women get an average of six hours and fifty minutes of sleep per night, but men get six hours and twenty six minutes of sleep, both of them more than 13% less than the recommended eight hour a night target.
While it might be hard to adjust that overall number due to work, life, and family responsibilities (I have four kids under the age of eight, just sayin’!) one thing we can work on is bedtime consistency.
Here’s a snippet from the article:
The biggest finding in Fitbit’s data may be the link between sleep quality and bedtime consistency.
That, Gleichauf explains, “is this idea that your bedtime varies.”
And in America, it really does vary — by an average of 64 minutes. You might go to bed at 11 p.m. on weeknights, but stay up after midnight on the weekends.
The Fitbit data shows that your sleep suffers as a result. If your bedtime varies by two hours over the week, you’ll average half hour of sleep a night less than someone whose bedtime varies by only 30 minutes.
And you’ll pay the price.
You know how jet lag works, right? “When you have jet lag, it’s the mismatch between the actual time, in the zone you’re in, and your circadian rhythm,” Gleichauf told me. “You’re not on the right part of that curve to make you fall asleep.” So, at night in your new city, you lie there for hours, unable to fall asleep — and then in the middle of the next day, you’re overcome by exhaustion.
When your bedtime varies over the week, then, you’re creating self-induced jet lag. Gleichauf calls it social jet lag: On Monday, when you have to go back to work (and drag your bedtime backward), you feel crummy and you’re more likely to get sick.
(Dr. Till Roenneberg, professor at the Institute of Medical Psychology at the University of Munich, calculates that every hour of social jetlag increases your risk of being overweight or obese by about 33%.)
“I’m super excited about this data,” Heneghan says. “For the first time ever, we were actually able to show the link between consistency and how long you sleep.” Source