Woman asleep in bed

Sleep Doctors Explain: Why You Need a Sleep Schedule Now

By Colleen Travers
April 27, 2021

If you’ve ever had a bad night’s sleep, you know how much of a drag the next day can be. And with so many of us burning the candle at both ends, whether it's juggling remote work, school, or both, getting enough rest at night may be becoming increasingly difficult. That’s why a new study conducted at the University of Michigan on the link between sleep, mood, and long-term sleeping habits is so important.

Researchers examined the sleep patterns of 2,100 medical interns two weeks before, and then during, the first four months of their residency. They found that there were two groups of interns who were most likely to suffer from poor daily moods and higher scores on the depression symptom questionnaire: those who stayed up late and got less sleep overall (which was unsurprising); and, unexpectedly, those who had erratic sleep schedules.

Changing the time the residents went to sleep or woke up (even just by one hour) was linked to a higher likelihood of poor moods. For example, if they went to bed later but woke up at the same time as usual, or went to bed at the same time but had to get up earlier, these fluctuations resulted in higher depressive symptom scores. Plus, previous research shows that the more our sleep schedules run off track, the more likely they can disrupt circadian rhythms long-term, which can also result in poor mental health.

This study sheds light on how vital good sleep habits can be. In addition to getting the recommended seven hours of sleep per night—and only 35 percent of adults in the U.S. report getting that much sack time—it's also important to make your sleep schedule as consistent as possible. Keep your bedtime and wake time as close to the same as possible all week—even on the weekends—to make sure you’re getting the kind of quality rest that will keep your moods stabilized the next day and beyond.

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