Night owl? You are more prone to diabetes, heart disease

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Girl with laptop at night
Girl with laptop at night

First ever international study shows why rising early truly is healthy

Night owls may have a higher risk of suffering from heart disease and type 2 diabetes than early risers.

In the first ever international review of studies analysing whether being an early riser or a night owl can influence your health, researchers have uncovered a growing body of evidence. It indicates an increased risk of ill health in people with an evening preference as they have more erratic eating patterns and consume more unhealthy foods.

The findings have been reported in Advances in Nutrition.

Eating late in the day was also found to be linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes as the circadian rhythm influences the way glucose is metabolised

The human body runs on a 24-hour cycle which is regulated by our internal clock, which is known as a circadian rhythm, or chronotype. This internal clock regulates many physical functions, such as telling you when to eat, sleep and wake. An individual’s chronotype leads to people having a natural preference towards waking early or going to bed late.

The researchers found increasing evidence emerging from studies linking conditions such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes to people with the evening chronotype – a natural preference for evenings.

People who go to bed later tend to have unhealthier diets, consuming more alcohol, sugars, caffeinated drinks and fast food than early risers. They consistently report more erratic eating patterns as they miss breakfast and eat later in the day.

Their diet contains less grains, rye and vegetables and they eat fewer, but larger, meals. They also report higher levels of consumption of caffeinated beverages, sugar and snacks, than those with a morning preference, who eat slightly more fruit and vegetables per day. This potentially explains why night owls have a higher risk of suffering from chronic disease.

Eating late in the day was also found to be linked to an increased risk of type 2 diabetes because the circadian rhythm influences the way glucose is metabolised in in the body.

Glucose levels should naturally decline throughout the day and reach their lowest point at night. However, as night owls often eat shortly before bed, their glucose levels are increased when they are about to sleep. This could negatively affect metabolism as their body isn’t following its normal biological process.

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