Night owls more likely to be obese, booze more and suffer heart disease – but it's not ALL bad news
Night owls are more likely to be obese and at risk from things like heart disease than early risers.
Scientists have just finished compiling the first international review comparing night owls with early risers.
And they've found that lovers of late nights were more at risk of heart disease, obesity and related metabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes.
Lead author of the study, Dr Suzana Almoosawi from Northumbria University, said: "In adulthood, being an evening chronotype is associated with greater risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes, and this may be potentially due to the poorer eating behaviour and diet of people with evening chronotype."
The study found that night fans generally ate later in the day, at less regular times, and they consumed more alcohol, sugar, and caffeinated products than earlier risers. Night owls were also more likely to skip breakfast.
Night owls are more likely to struggle with diabetes
Dr Almoosawi said that they found that people who have poorer control of their diabetes also tend to be evening types.
Normally, our body clocks regulate how well we metabolise glucose; during the day, our glucose levels decline and by the evening, they're usually at their lowest point.
But night owls tend to eat later in the day, so their glucose levels spike just before bedtime – and that goes against the way our bodies were designed.
They also tend to be fatter
Research published earlier this year found that staying up late was responsible for people piling on the pounds.
Dr Sirimon Reutrakul, associate professor of endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism in the University of Illinois at Chicago, found those aged under 60 who went to bed late had higher BMIs than those who went to be early.
"People can have more regular bedtimes and aim to have more sleep, which may help reduce BMI and the potential development of diabetes in this high-risk group."
Eating later in the day doesn't necessarily make you fat but it's the overall timetable associated with snacking later on that's the problem.
Going to bed late has been linked to poor mental health
Previous research has linked being a night owl to mood swings, depression and addiction due to disrupted sleep patterns.
A major study of more than 64,000 women in 2016 also found that owls have a significantly raised risk of developing type 2 diabetes if they have to work shifts that start early.
The increased risk may possibly be due to long-term inflammation in the body, which is a known cause of type 2 diabetes.
Night owls are more likely to die earlier
Sounds dramatic, but researchers back in April found that people with naturally late body clocks were around 10 per cent more likely to die over any given period than early birds.
Scientists from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said that it was probably down to the fact that in a world geared towards early starts, their circadian rhythms are thrown out of kilter.
Working nights increases women's risk of cancer
Working night shifts raises women's chances of developing cancer by 19 per cent – with nurses being most at risk.
Experts from Sichuan University in China found that skin cancer was raised by 41 per cent, breast cancer by 32 per cent and stomach cancer by 18 per cent in those who worked through till the early hours.
Past research has found that exposure to light at night decreases levels of melatonin, which can disrupt the internal "clock" that regulates sleepiness – and that hormone has also been found to suppress the growth of breast cancer tumours.
While all of this sounds pretty bad, most of the negative findings seemed to revolve around the dietary habits of night owls, and the good news is that that's totally modifiable.
If you do have to stay up late, you might want to try intermittent fasting, for example, to keep your blood sugar under control even if you are eating late at night.
But it's not all bad news for night owls.
Night owls apparently are more creative than the rest of us
A study conducted by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan showed that those with a penchant for staying up late, also exhibited the most creativity.
Researchers got people to complete pictures composed of only straight and curved lines, and while night owls passed the test with no problem, those who considered themselves to be early risers struggled to achieve an average score.
They're also smarter
The London School of Economics and Political Science found that the brightest students had both later bedtimes and waking times – while those with low-to-average intellectual ability went to bed earlier.
And they might also be stronger
Unlike morning people who have a steady energy level throughout the day which tails off, night owls have been shown to have a burst of strength in the evening – the result of increased motor cortex and spinal cord excitability working together in the evening hours.
Morning larks don't experience that combination of positives.
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