Are you a night owl who enjoys staying up late? If you are, enjoy it while you can but know that your belated bedtimes may be a detriment to your health in middle age. A new study finds that people with late bedtimes are more likely to develop diabetes and other health problems than early birds.
Moreover, the health risks stayed the same even for night owls who got the same amount of sleep as early risers, according to the study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Many night owls don’t get enough sleep because they go to bed late but still need to wake up early in the morning, said the study’s senior author, Dr. Nan Hee Kim, an endocrinologist at Korea University Ansan Hospital. “These results support the importance of circadian rhythms in metabolic regulation,” says Kim.
The study included 1,620 people ages 47 to 59 years old. The participants answered questions about their sleep-wake cycles, sleep quality and lifestyle habits, such as how often they exercised. They also gave blood samples and underwent body scans that assessed their body’s fat and lean mass.
The researchers found that the evening people were more likely than the early risers to have poor sleep quality and unhealthy behaviors such as smoking, sedentary lifestyles and eating late at night. The night owls also tended to be younger, but were more likely to have high levels of body fat and triglycerides, or fats in their blood, than early risers. (Having high levels of fat is usually associated with older age.)