Rise and Shine
Night owls face higher risk of metabolic syndrome than early birds
Night owls are more likely to develop diabetes, metabolic syndrome and sarcopenia than early risers, even when they get the same amount of sleep, according to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
The study which examined the difference between night and morning chronotypes, or a person’s natural sleep-wake cycle concluded that staying awake later at night is likely to cause sleep loss, poor sleep quality, and poor eating patterns, which might eventually lead to metabolic change.
“Regardless of lifestyle, people who stayed up late faced a higher risk of developing health problems like diabetes or reduced muscle mass than those who were early risers,” said one of the study’s authors, Nan Hee Kim, MD, PhD, of Korea University College of Medicine. “This could be caused by night owls’ tendency to have poorer sleep quality and to engage in unhealthy behaviours like smoking, late-night eating and a sedentary lifestyle.”
Sleeping habits and metabolism where examined in 1,620 participants between the ages of 47 and 59. Respondents sleep-wake cycle, sleep quality and lifestyle habits such as exercising were also recorded and researchers took blood samples to assess participants’ metabolic health. In addition, the study subjects underwent DEXA scans to measure total body fat and lean mass, and CT scans to measure abdominal visceral fat.
Based on questionnaire results, 480 participants were classified as morning chronotypes, and 95 were categorised as evening chronotypes. The remaining participants had a sleep-wake cycle between the two extremes.
Although the evening chronotypes tended to be younger, they had higher levels of body fat and triglycerides, or fats in the blood, than morning chronotypes. Night owls also were more likely to have sarcopenia and men who were evening chronotypes were more likely have diabetes or sarcopenia than early risers. Among women, night owls tended to have more visceral fat and a great risk of metabolic syndrome.
“Considering many younger people are evening chronotypes, the metabolic risk associated with their circadian preference is an important health issue that needs to be addressed,” Kim said.