Woman In Bed With Mobile Phone At Night

We all have that one time in the day when we’re most active and productive. For many, it’s in the early hours of the day (early birds) while some prefer late at night (night owls). However, one of these preferences can harm one’s overall health. A new study suggests that always staying up late at night can put one at increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

The circadian rhythm is the body’s biological clock that is essentially involved in our wake/sleep cycle. A disturbance in one’s energy metabolism can potentially affect this circadian rhythm and can cause chronic diseases including diabetes and heart diseases. Recent research published in Experimental Physiology shows that early risers burn more fats for energy quite easily when at rest and engaging in exercise than night Owls.

In addition to that, the study authors also discover that a morning person is more likely to be physically active throughout the day and aerobically fit than those that stay up late.

While this emphasizes the reduced likelihood of developing cardiovascular diseases in early risers, researchers were driven to figure out the body’s preference for energy sources both at rest and when engaged in physical activity in both early Birds and night Owls.

‘Staying up late into the night increase risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease’

For their research, the study involved a total of 51 participants all classified into early and late. The participant’s waist circumference, total body weight, blood pressure, and breadth samples were taken. On top of that, they were given special devices to wear once they woke up every morning and remove at bedtime for over a week. The reason behind this was to check the level of metabolism of fats and carbohydrates in both early risers and those that stay up at night.

To ensure uniformity in the results, all participants were made to consume a diet low in fat and fast overnight for 10 to 12 hours. Thereafter, their breadth samples were taken while both standing quietly for 5 mins and after completing two-15 mins rounds of exercise to investigate the energy source. One at moderate and the other at high intensity. 

From the result, researchers found that participants in the early group depended more on fats as a preferred energy source at rest and during exercise than those in the late.

While the study authors suggest more insulin sensitivity in early risers, in other words, they can break down glucose easily for storage or energy use. On the other hand, due to being less active throughout the day, night Owls have low aerobic fitness levels and appear to be more insulin resistant. The profound implication of being insulin resistant is the impaired ability to produce more insulin to take up excess glucose; a close association with diabetes.

Consequently, the study revealed that those who stay up late relied more on carbohydrates than fats as an energy source. This, therefore, results in less fat burn and an accumulation of fats in the body — showing great risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

According to lead author Dr. Malin, since the early Birds engaged in physical activity in the morning, an investigation of the potential health benefits of exercising in the morning is necessary. 

Although, it’s worth noting that the women in the study were mostly postmenopausal. So the study authors can’t say whether that may have an impact on the outcome of the study. 

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