Circadian rhythms, otherwise known as your body's 24 hour sleep / wake cycle, determine when you feel sleepy, and when it's time to wake up in the morning. There is a number of large-ranged impacts on your health. According to a new study by researchers at the University of Bristol, breast cancer risk lowers for women who wake up early compared to their night-owl counterparts. While the study was conducted in the United States, the findings of the study were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. to CNN.
CNN reports that this study, sleep schedule preferences were reported over 180 women in the European descent in the UK. Cancer risks associated with sleep schedules have been suggested by previous research, and UK researchers set out to expand upon those findings with the current study. While the study participants were self-reported early risers, they showed lower rates of breast cancer. Lead study author, Dr. Rebecca Richmond, a research fellow in the Cancer Research UK Integrative Cancer Epidemiology Program at the University of Bristol, presented at the NCRI Cancer Conference in Glasgow on Tuesday, according to CNN.
Per the BBC, everybody has a body clock that influences when you sleep, your moods, and maybe even your susceptibility to certain illnesses. Morning people tend to have energy peaks earlier in the day, and get tired earlier in the evening. People who like to go to bed late in the evening, and feel sleepier in the morning than early risers do. When circadian rhythms get disrupted, mood and health disorders can result. UK researchers also conducted a genetic analysis of the study participants to better understand what the link between sleep patterns and breast cancer may be, according to CNN.
"We know that sleep is important for health," Richmond told CNN. "These findings have potential policy implications for influencing sleep habits of the general population in order to improve health and reduce risk of breast cancer among women."
However, a link to breast cancer risk and sleep patterns, the statistical model used in this study does not necessarily imply causality, Dipender Gill, a clinical research training fellow at Imperial College London told CNN. "For example, the genetic determinants of sleep may also affect other … mechanisms that affect breast cancer risk independently of sleep patterns, "Gill said. So while sleep patterns might be associated with breast cancer risk, they do not necessarily cause it, according to Gill – there may be other genetic and health factors at play.
"Sleep is likely to be an important risk factor for breast cancer," Richmond told CNN. But other health factors, like excessive alcohol consumption, are more of a concern, she said. There are many factors that contribute to breast cancer risk, including breast cancer risk.
When it comes to getting enough sleep, and reducing the risk of illnesses like breast cancer, getting to bed early. And while sleep disruption, or not getting enough solid sleep on a regular basis, can increase your chances for some cancers, more research is needed to fully understand how circadian rhythm impacts breast cancer risk.