Metabolic health is one of those key measures of health most people need but most people don’t know about. And having a good night’s sleep is essential to metabolic health.

It’s more than just maintaining an ideal body weight or exercising regularly. Health professionals define metabolic health as having ideal levels of blood sugar, triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, blood pressure and waist circumference -- but without using medications.

These five key factors define metabolic health, which directly relates to a person’s risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke. This explains the importance of metabolic health to our overall health.

“We need to look at metabolism beyond just body weight,” said Dr. Rekha Kumar, an endocrinologist at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine.

“There has been a push to address obesity through public health measures, but this study shows us that even people who are a normal weight seem to be developing diseases that we typically correlate with obesity.”

Doctors say diet and lifestyle changes can help improve one’s metabolic health. Quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet rich in vegetables, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly throughout the week also help one attain metabolic health.

But there is one key factor that also helps promote metabolic health. It’s sleep hygiene.

Sleep hygiene consists of recommended behavioral and environmental practice that is intended to promote better quality sleep. Sleep hygiene recommendations include establishing a regular sleep schedule, limiting worry, limiting exposure to light in the hours before sleep, not using bed for anything but sleep and sex, and avoiding alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, and other stimulants in the hours before bedtime.

“Sleep hygiene should also be incorporated into improving metabolic health. That has taken a hit on our modern society with technology and what often feels like a 24-hour workday for people,” said Dr Kumar.

Having a regular pattern of going to bed and waking-up promotes metabolic health. A new study has linked the habit of metabolic health to a lower chance of developing high blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol. Collectively, these metabolic risk factors are sometimes referred to as the “metabolic syndrome.”

A recent medical study examined the relationship between variability of sleep pattern and the development of metabolic risk factors in 2,003 people between 45 and 84 years old.

It found that for every 1 hour of day-to-day variation in bedtime or length of sleep, there was a 27 percent increased risk of developing metabolic risk factors.

Previous studies have shown a link between insufficient sleep and higher risk of obesity, diabetes and other metabolic disorders. This new study shows the irregularity in the pattern of bedtime and length of sleep might also be a factor in developing metabolic syndrome.

"Our research shows that, even after considering the amount of sleep a person gets and other lifestyle factors, every 1-hour night-to-night difference in the time to bed or the duration of a night's sleep multiplies the adverse metabolic effect," said study author Dr. Tianyi Huang, who works as an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.