The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) issued a new guideline emphasizing the benefit of consistent sleep schedules on health and performance, while also endorsing catch-up sleep on non-work days when needed. 

A multidisciplinary expert panel consisting of authorities in sleep and circadian science developed the consensus recommendation, which indicates that consistent sleep and wake times are important for mental and physical health, as well as academic and cognitive performance. Conversely, inconsistent sleep schedules are associated with negative health outcomes, including obesity and diabetes, cardiovascular disease, immune dysfunction, cancer, and impaired mental health.

Additionally, the guideline states that, if sleep is insufficient on work days, sleeping an extra one to two hours a day (“catch-up sleep”) on non-work days can benefit most people as a method to help recover from sleep debt. 

The results are published in Sleep Health.

“The consensus panel concluded that consistent timing of bedtimes and wake times are associated with improved outcomes across multiple dimensions of health and performance—including alertness, cardiovascular and metabolic health, inflammation, and mental health,” says panel chair and senior author Charles A. Czeisler, MD, PhD, division chief of sleep and circadian disorders at  Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Frank Baldino, Jr, PhD, professor of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School, in a release.

Getting less than the NSF-recommended seven to nine hours of sleep per night, for most adults, and/or having poor sleep quality are associated with adverse health outcomes. 

“Translation of science to the public is core to the mission of the National Sleep Foundation. The findings in our consensus report reinforce important steps everyone can take to be their Best Slept Self,” says NSF vice president of research and scientific affairs Joseph Dzierzewski, PhD, in a release. “Maintaining consistent sleep and wake times and utilizing non-work days to help catch up on sleep are two tools most members of the public can use to promote sleep health.”

NSF thanks its international expert panel for conducting the literature review and analysis. Collectively, the panel reflects decades of clinical and research experience, more than 1,300 academic publications, and a Nobel laureate. Members from the expert panel are affiliated with the following institutions:

  • Monash University
  • Brigham and Women’s Hospital
  • Harvard Medical School
  • University of Oxford
  • Marshall University
  • Massachusetts General Hospital
  • LMU Munich
  • The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute
  • Northwestern University
  • University of Washington
  • The Rockefeller University

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