Night owls may be more prone to heart disease and diabetes, study finds | Medical research

Night owls may be more prone to heart disease and diabetes than early risers because their bodies are less able to burn fat for energy, US researchers have found.

People who get up early rely more on fat for energy and are often more active during the day than those who stay up later, meaning fat may accumulate more easily in night owls, found the scientists.

The results may help explain why night owls are at higher risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, and can help doctors quickly identify patients who are more likely to develop the conditions.

“This could help healthcare professionals consider another behavioral factor contributing to disease risk,” said Professor Steven Malin, lead study author and metabolism expert at Rutgers University in New Jersey.

The researchers divided 51 obese middle-aged adults into early risers and night owls, based on their responses to a questionnaire about sleep and activity habits. They monitored the volunteers’ activity patterns for a week and tested their bodies’ energy preferences at rest and during moderate- or high-intensity exercise on a treadmill.

Writing in Experimental Physiology, the team describes how early birds were more sensitive to blood levels of the hormone insulin and burned more fat than night birds at rest and during exercise. Night owls were less sensitive to insulin and their bodies preferred carbohydrates to fats for energy.

Malin said it’s not clear why differences in metabolism were seen in night owls and early birds, but one possibility he says is a discrepancy between when people go to bed. and wake up the next morning and the circadian rhythms that govern their body clocks.

“Night owls are said to have a higher risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease compared to early risers,” he said. “A potential explanation is that they get out of alignment with their circadian rhythm for a variety of reasons, but especially in adults it would be work.”

If a person is a night owl, Malin added, they may prefer to go to bed late but still have to get up early to go to work or take care of the children, which can force them out of alignment with their biological clock. . when they prefer to sleep.

The findings could affect discussions about the health risks of night work and even changing clocks to daylight hours. “If we promote a calendar pattern that is out of sync with nature, it could exacerbate health risks,” Malin said. “Whether eating habits or activity can help alleviate them is an area that we hope will become clear over time.”

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