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LauriPatterson/E+/Getty ImagesNICK KEPPLER12.7.2021 4:30 AM

IN SPITE OF OUR OBSESSION with hustling and addiction to pixelated distractions, reasons to develop good sleep habits keep stacking up. Good sleep, scientists increasingly understand, helps stabilize several internal clocks that keep the body functioning. Now, researchers have discovered two sleep factors that may play roles in how we metabolize breakfast — and reveal what you should absolutely not do to perk up after a bad night. LIKE THISMIND AND BODY11.30.2021 4:00 AMEVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGISTS REVEAL HOW EXERCISE UNLOCKS HUMAN LONGEVITYBy NICK KEPPLERMIND AND BODY12.7.2021 10:02 AMSLEEP SCIENCE: 6 CONNECTIONS SHOW HOW GUT HEALTH INFLUENCES SLUMBERBy JENNIFER WALTERMIND AND BODY12.2.2021 11:00 AMWHY AMISH DNA IS A “GOLDMINE” FOR HEART DISEASE RESEARCHBy NICK KEPPLEREARN REWARDS & LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY.SUBMIT

In a study published last week in Diabetologia, both disturbed sleep patterns and going to sleep after midnight were correlated to a less-than-optimal postprandial response. Specifically, poor sleep affected the body’s ability to rope glucose (sugar) levels back to normal after a meal.

Essentially, the study shows how a night of stop-and-go sleep may mess with your body’s ability to regulate blood sugar, and that going to bed late might also be bad for metabolism. In turn, the length of time spent snoozing didn’t seem to make a difference — so even if you went to bed at 1 a.m. and woke up at 12 p.m., the body still processes the first meal of the day suboptimally.

“We understand there are three pillars of a healthy lifestyle — diet, exercise, and sleep — and they aren’t independent of one another,” study co-author Paul Franks, of the Lund University Diabetes Centre in Malmö, Sweden, tells Inverse.

“These things coexist together. One can’t compartmentalize sleep too much.”

LONGEVITY HACKS is a regular series from Inverse on the science-backed strategies to live better, healthier, and longer without medicine. Get more in our Hacks index.

SCIENCE IN ACTION — The data for the Diabetologia study came from the Personalised Responses to Dietary Composition Trial (or P.R.E.D.I.C.T.), a collaboration between King’s College London and Massachusetts General Hospital involving a pool of 2,500 participants.

The study is a rarity for sleep research, says Franks because it is both relatively large and not dependent on self-reporting.

“Quality sleep research tends to be done in sleep laboratories,” he says, “but those studies tend to have ten people, some of the larger ones 70 or 80, and they are done in the very artificial environments of sleep labs.”

These kinds of studies are useful for understanding brain mechanisms of sleep but they also mean high-quality data on the effect of sleep on the average person is harder to come by, Franks says.

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