Study: Do night owls live longer? Are early birds healthier?

If you pride yourself on staying up late to watch TV or catch up on reading and other tasks, you might want to change your schedule a bit.

New research suggests that night owls may be more likely to develop heart disease or diabetes than early birds. People who get up early in the morning seem to burn more fat for energy and are often more active than those who stay up late.

This is according to a study in the journal Experimental Physiology. Researchers at Rutgers University found that early risers use more fat during both rest and exercise, regardless of their aerobic fitness, compared to people who go to bed late. The former are also more active throughout the day, using more fat, while their nocturnal counterparts tend to store more.

Although the two groups were similar in body composition, the earlier ones were more sensitive to blood insulin levels and burned more fat while exercising and resting. Instead of burning fat for fuel, the study found that night owls used carbohydrates for energy.

Steven Malin, a Rutgers professor who led the study, told The Guardian that his team had not decoded why the two groups of people had metabolisms that worked differently. He said it could be a “mismatch” between when people go to bed and wake up and their natural circadian rhythms.

“Night owls are reported to have a higher rate of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease compared to early birds,” he said. “One potential explanation is that they become out of sync with their circadian rhythm for a variety of reasons, but especially among working adults.”

He noted that night owls may still have to go to work in the morning, so they get up early. This could disrupt your natural body clock. CNN noted that people who are chronically out of alignment with their body clock are said to have “social jet lag.”

“The study adds to what we know,” Dr. Phyllis Zee, director of the Center for Circadian and Sleep Medicine at Northwestern University and not involved in the study, told CNN. “There is good evidence that sleeping late has been linked to an increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease.”

Zee noted that “several mechanisms have been proposed: sleep loss, circadian misalignment, eating later in the day, and being exposed to less morning light and more evening light, which have been shown to affect insulin sensitivity “.

The article said night owls are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and consume more tobacco, alcohol and caffeine. They also often skip breakfast but load up on food later in the day.

The study ranked 51 adults who do not have diabetes or heart disease according to whether they would fall into the former or night owl category. All were on a restricted diet and fasted overnight. Their activity level was also monitored for a week. Their body mass index, fitness level and body composition were also looked at, as well as their insulin sensitivity.

The news doesn’t always favor early risers.

In 2009, Science reported: “Two factors control our bedtime. The first is hardwired: a master clock in the brain regulates the so-called circadian rhythm, which synchronizes activity patterns with the 24-hour day . Some people’s clocks tell them to go to bed at 9 p.m., others at 3 a.m. The second factor, called sleep pressure, does not depend on the time of day, but simply how long someone has been awake.

The Belgium study found that “late sleepers outperform early sleepers on some cognitive tasks,” Science said, including some that require attention and speed. The paper called it a “result with real-world consequences,” according to sleep researcher David Dinges of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

“Current risk analyzes use time of day and hours worked to predict when people are most at risk of accidents, such as aviation errors,” the article said. “But now, says Dinges, they may have to consider that morning people tend to lose concentration more quickly. At least, according to sleep researcher Amita Sehgal, also of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, this is a new and ‘intriguing’ explanation for the different habits of larks and owls.”

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