Published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, the study has provided evidence that poor sleep makes us more likely to make unhealthy lifestyle decisions by collecting data from 37, 508 adults in Finland.
The large, long-term study was conducted as an international joint effort between epidemiologists and sleep researchers from both Finland and Demark. Researchers at the University of Copenhagen observed sleep duration and sleep quality, along with health-related behaviors, including physical activity, alcohol consumption, smoking and weight control.
One of the findings showed that people who smoked and were able to maintain healthy sleep patterns (normal sleep duration without nighttime awakenings), were also less likely to still be smokers in the future, having quit the habit within a four year follow-up period. On the other hand, who smokers slept less and/or experienced more nighttime disturbances were less likely to give up smoking all together.
Additionally, the same patterns regarding other lifestyle changes were observed—impaired sleep led to a higher risk of becoming physically inactive among those who initially exercised regularly, becoming overweight or obese, as well as high-risk alcohol consumption amongst non-risk consumers.
The research is significant as previous population based studies have not analyzed the timing of changes in both sleep and lifestyle to discover the cause and effect of what is recognized as a “highly intertwined relationship.”
“Better knowledge of the importance of sleep, not just for biological restitution, but also for making healthy lifestyle decisions, may help people make informed decisions about prioritizing how to spend the night — caching up on work emails, surfing social media or going to bed and ensuring a good night’s sleep,” explains Dr. Alice Jessie Clark of the Department of Public at the university.
Make the decision tonight to stick a consistent bedtime that will allow you to take advantage of all the benefits a good night’s sleep provides, improving your overall quality of life. And remember, the quality of your snooze is just important as the duration, making your sleep environment, bedtime routine and daily habits even more important for great shut-eye.
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