“Early to bed and early to rise makes and man healthy, wealthy and wise”. There’s hardly anyone who hasn’t heard of this 18th century proverb. A new study by a group of Korean researchers says that going to bed early may not make you wealthy or wise, but it can have positive effects on your health. In other words, night owls tend to fare poorly in terms of health and face a higher risk of developing diseases like diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and sarcopenia.
The study, which was published online in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, was based on a survey of the sleep pattern of 1,620 men and women between the ages of 47 and 59. They were asked to complete a questionnaire to know if they were morning people or night owls. The results revealed that 480 were morning types, 95 were night owls, and the remaining 1,045 fit were in neither group.
Glucose tolerance, body composition and waist size of the participants was measured. They were also quizzed on their sleep-wake cycle, sleep quality and lifestyle habits such as exercising. Their metabolic health was evaluated on the basis of blood samples. Scans were used to measure total body fat, lean mass and abdominal visceral fat.
The findings of the study revealed that:
- Night owls were generally younger, female, and current smokers
- Night owls are more likely to develop diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and sarcopenia than early risers – even when they got the same amount of sleep.
- Night owls did less regular exercise than their early bird counterparts.
- Men who were night owls were significantly more likely to have diabetes or sarcopenia compared to morning people.
- Women night owls were more than twice as likely to have metabolic syndrome – high blood sugar levels, more belly fat, and abnormal lipid readings – and faced higher risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
While the reasons for such effects are not quite clear, the researchers suggest that having calorie-rich food after 8 p.m. and exposure can negatively impact metabolic regulation.