Increased Diabetes Risk for Evening People: Study Reveals
A recent study has shown that individuals who identify as “evening people” or “night owls” face a 19% higher risk of developing diabetes compared to those who consider themselves “early birds.” This research also indicates that women with an “evening chronotype,” those who go to bed and wake up late, are more likely to lead unhealthy lifestyles.
Understanding Chronotype and Its Impact on Health
Chronotype, or circadian preference, refers to a person’s natural timing for sleep and waking, and it is partly influenced by genetics, making it challenging to alter. According to Tianyi Huang, an associate epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital’s Channing Division of Network Medicine in the United States, individuals who identify as “night owls” should pay closer attention to their lifestyle choices due to the increased risk of type 2 diabetes associated with their evening chronotype.
Study Methodology and Participant Data
The research involved an analysis of data from nearly 64,000 women participating in the Nurses’ Health Study II, one of the largest investigations into risk factors for chronic diseases among women in the US. Data collected between 2009 and 2017 included self-reported sleeping habits, dietary preferences, weight, body mass index (BMI), sleep timing, smoking habits, alcohol consumption, physical activity levels, and family history of diabetes. Medical records were also reviewed to identify women with diabetes.
Of the participants, 11% identified as having an evening chronotype, while approximately 35% considered themselves morning people. The remainder fell into the intermediate category, neither strictly morning nor evening individuals.
Associations Between Evening Chronotype and Diabetes Risk
After adjusting for lifestyle factors, the researchers found that having an evening chronotype was linked to a 19% higher risk of diabetes. Notably, among those with the healthiest lifestyles, only 6% identified as evening chronotypes, in contrast to 25% of night owls with unhealthy lifestyles.
The study also revealed that individuals with evening chronotypes were more likely to consume higher quantities of alcohol, follow low-quality diets, sleep fewer hours per night, engage in smoking, and have weight, BMI, and physical activity levels in the unhealthy range.
Implications for Healthcare and Future Research
Dr. Sina Kianersi, a postdoctoral research fellow at the Channing Division of Network Medicine, emphasized that while lifestyle factors explained a significant portion of the association between chronotype and diabetes risk, a substantial link still remained. This underscores the need for individuals with evening chronotypes to be vigilant about their health choices.
The study’s findings also suggest that personalized work scheduling, particularly for nurses working day shifts, could be beneficial in mitigating the impact of evening chronotypes on diabetes risk.
In the future, the researchers plan to investigate the genetic factors underlying chronotype and its association with heart disease. Understanding these relationships could enable healthcare providers to tailor more effective prevention strategies for their patients.
The comprehensive findings of this research are published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine.