The importance of sleep regularity: a consensus statement of the National Sleep Foundation sleep timing and variability panel

Sleep Health. 2023 Sep 6;S2352-7218(23)00166-3. doi: 10.1016/j.sleh.2023.07.016. Online ahead of print.


Objective: To develop and present consensus findings of the National Sleep Foundation sleep timing and variability panel regarding the impact of sleep timing variability on health and performance.

Methods: The National Sleep Foundation assembled a panel of sleep and circadian experts to evaluate the scientific evidence and conduct a formal consensus and voting procedure. A systematic literature review was conducted using the NIH National Library of Medicine PubMed database, and panelists voted on the appropriateness of 3 questions using a modified Delphi RAND/UCLA Appropriateness Method with 2 rounds of voting.

Results: The literature search and panel review identified 63 full text publications to inform consensus voting. Panelists achieved consensus on each question: (1) is daily regularity in sleep timing important for (a) health or (b) performance? and (2) when sleep is of insufficient duration during the week (or work days), is catch-up sleep on weekends (or non-work days) important for health? Based on the evidence currently available, panelists agreed to an affirmative response to all 3 questions.

Conclusions: Consistency of sleep onset and offset timing is important for health, safety, and performance. Nonetheless, when insufficient sleep is obtained during the week/work days, weekend/non-work day catch-up sleep may be beneficial.

Keywords: Catch-up sleep; Circadian misalignment; Health; Performance; Sleep patterns.