Comparing night owls against early risers

The majority of individuals fit into one of two chronotypes: Morning people or evening people. In other words, you either prefer to stay up late and are a night owl, or you go to bed earlier and are an early riser. To develop a better understanding of the health impacts associated with each chronotype, a group of scientists from a number of institutions conducted an extensive review of relevant research and published their findings in the journal Advances in Nutrition.

The scientists were particularly interested in understanding the connection between circadian rhythms and eating patterns. They discovered that people who went to bed later often followed less healthful eating patterns such as eating later in the day, at less regular times, and consumed more alcohol, sugar and caffeinated products than early risers. Not to mention, night owls generally consumed less vegetables and grains, and ate less frequently but had bigger portions. These eating patterns may explain why night owls had an increased risk of heart disease and metabolic conditions like type 2 diabetes. One study indicated that night owls were 2.5 times more likely to have type 2 diabetes than early risers.

It will take a lot more research to determine whether these differences in chronotypes are caused by social pressures such as school and work start times or whether it is triggered by hormonal changes. However, it appears that the unfavourable health effects of being a night owl are predominantly linked to dietary habits which can often be easily modified. For example, following a healthier diet and cutting back on sugar and alcohol can greatly reduce said health risks.

If you struggle with sleeplessness or disturbed sleep you may benefit from taking magnesium. Dr Cabot’s book ‘Tired of not sleeping’ discusses 68 possible things that can stop you from sleeping and provides you with practical strategies to overcome these sleep troubles.

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