What is your sleep pattern?

To better understand the impact of sleep habits on long-term health outcomes, US researchers identified four distinct sleep patterns by analysing the self-reported sleep habits of 3,683 middle-aged adults.

Good sleepers: those who get optimal sleep on a regular basis; weekend catch-up sleepers: those who mostly sleep for short durations, but sleep longer on weekends and holidays; insomnia sleepers: those who have trouble falling asleep, short sleep duration and high daytime tiredness; and nappers: those who are mostly good sleepers, but take frequent daytime naps.

More than half of the participants were insomnia sleepers or nappers and most of them maintained their sleep patterns over the course of the 10-year study period. The participants also reported on the number and type of chronic conditions. Insomnia sleepers had 72 per cent to 188 per cent greater risk of chronic health issues, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, depression and frailty. Nappers had an increased risk of diabetes, cancer and frailty. However, being a weekend catch-up sleeper was not associated with any chronic conditions.

“There are sleep hygiene behaviours that people could do to improve their sleep, such as not using cell phones in bed, exercising regularly and avoiding caffeine in the late afternoon,” said the study. “Better sleeping habits can make many significant differences, from improving social relationships and work performance to promoting long-term healthy behaviours.”

The results were published in Psychosomatic Medicine.