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 may need to adjust your schedule a little.

New research suggests that night owls may be more likely to suffer from heart disease or diabetes than early birds. Early risers seem to burn more fat as an energy source and are generally more active than late nighters.

That’s according to a study in the journal Experimental Physiology. Researchers at Rutgers University found that early risers burned more fat while resting and exercising, regardless of their aerobic activity, compared to late sleepers. The former were also more active during the day and burned more fat, while their late-night counterparts tended to store more.

Although the body composition of the two groups was similar, the early risers were more sensitive to insulin levels in their blood, and they burned more fat while exercising and resting. Instead of burning fat for fuel, night owls use carbohydrates for energy, the study found.

Rutgers professor Steven Marin, who led the study, told the Guardian that his team has not yet explained why the two groups have different metabolisms. He said it could be a “mismatch” between when people go to bed and wake up and their natural circadian rhythms.

“Night owls have been reported to have higher rates of obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease compared with early birds,” he said. “One possible explanation is that they become out of tune with their circadian rhythms for a variety of reasons, but most notably in working adults.”

He noted that night owls may still have to go to work in the morning, so they get up early. This can disrupt their natural biological clock. CNN points out that people who are chronically out of tune with their biological clocks are called “social jet lag.”

“This study adds to what we know,” Phyllis Zee, MD, director of Northwestern’s Center for Circadian Rhythm and Sleep Medicine, who was not involved in the study, told CNN. “There is good evidence that late sleep is associated with an increased risk of metabolic and cardiovascular disease.”

Zee noted, “Several mechanisms have been proposed: sleep deprivation, circadian rhythm disorders, eating later in the day, and exposure to less morning light and more evening light have all been shown to affect insulin sensitivity. .”

Night owls are more likely to engage in risky behaviors and use more tobacco, alcohol and caffeine, the article said. They also often skip breakfast, but eat later in the day.

The study classified 51 adults without diabetes or heart disease according to whether they belonged to the early bird or night owl subcategory. Everyone restricted their diet and fasted overnight. Their activity levels were also monitored for a week. Their body mass index, fitness level and body composition were also recorded, along with measured insulin sensitivity.

News isn’t always in favor of the early bird.

In 2009, the journal Science reported: “Two factors govern our bedtime. The first is hard-wired: The master clock in the brain regulates what’s called the circadian rhythm, synchronizing activity patterns with the 24-hour day. Some people’s clocks tell them to go to bed at 9pm, others at 3am.

Research from Belgium found that “late sleepers outperformed early risers on certain cognitive tasks,” Science says, including some who require attention and speed. The article calls it “a result with real-world consequences,” said sleep researcher David Dinges of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in Philadelphia.

“Current risk analysis uses time of day and work hours to predict when people are most prone to accidents — such as aviation errors,” the article said. “But now, Dinges says, they may need to take into account that people tend to lose focus more quickly in the morning. At least, that’s a new take on the different habits of larks and owls,” says sleep researcher Amita Sehgal, also at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine. ‘Interesting’ explanation.”

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