The objective of this systematic review was to examine the associations between sleep timing (e.g., bedtime/wake-up time, midpoint of sleep), sleep consistency/regularity (e.g., intra-individual variability in sleep duration, social jetlag, catch-up sleep), and health outcomes in adults aged 18 years and older. Four electronic databases were searched in December 2018 for articles published in the previous 10 years. Fourteen health outcomes were examined. A total of 41 articles, including 92 340 unique participants from 14 countries, met inclusion criteria. Sleep was assessed objectively in 37% of studies and subjectively in 63% of studies. Findings suggest that later sleep timing and greater sleep variability were generally associated with adverse health outcomes. However, because most studies reported linear associations, it was not possible to identify thresholds for “late sleep timing” or “large sleep variability”. In addition, social jetlag was associated with adverse health outcomes, while weekend catch-up sleep was associated with better health outcomes. The quality of evidence ranged from “very low” to “moderate” across study designs and health outcomes using GRADE. In conclusion, the available evidence supports that earlier sleep timing and regularity in sleep patterns with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times are favourably associated with health. (PROSPERO registration no.: CRD42019119534.)
Novelty This is the first systematic review to examine the influence of sleep timing and sleep consistency on health outcomes. Later sleep timing and greater variability in sleep are both associated with adverse health outcomes in adults. Regularity in sleep patterns with consistent bedtimes and wake-up times should be encouraged.