If you consider yourself a night owl, a person who is in a good mood after the sun sets and grumpy when it rises, then there is news for you. A new study has found that people with later sleep and wake times might be at higher risk of developing the disease.
The study, published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, found that night owls, people with an evening chronotype, or circadian preference, which refers to the preferred timing of sleep and waking could have a greater risk of developing diabetes compared to early risers. The findings showed that the people with evening chronotype had a 19% increased risk of diabetes after accounting for lifestyle factors, a press release by Brigham and Women's Hospital, a founding member of the Mass General Brigham healthcare system, revealed.
“Chronotype, or circadian preference, refers to a person’s preferred timing of sleep and waking and is partly genetically determined so it may be difficult to change,” said corresponding author Tianyi Huang in the statement. “People who think they are ‘night owls’ may need to pay more attention to their lifestyle because their evening chronotype may add increased risk for type 2 diabetes.”
A prior study by the researchers found that people with more irregular sleep habits are at higher risk of developing diabetes and cardiovascular disease and those with evening chronotypes are more likely to have irregular sleep patterns, according to the statement. In this study, they expanded on the previous findings to examine the relationship between chronotype and diabetes risk while considering the role of lifestyle factors such as diet quality, alcohol use, smoking behaviour, body mass index, and family history of diabetes.
The team analysed data from 63,676 female nurses from the Nurses’ Health Study II collected from 2009 to 2017 and included self-reported chronotype, which refers to the extent to which participants perceived themselves to be an evening person or a morning person.
The findings showed that the evening chronotype was linked to a 72% increased risk for diabetes before accounting for lifestyle factors. After considering them, it was associated with a 19% increased risk of diabetes, according to the statement. Among the respondents with the healthiest lifestyles, only 6% had evening chronotypes and among those with the unhealthiest lifestyles, 25% were evening chronotypes.
Moreover, people with evening chronotypes were more likely to drink alcohol in higher quantities, have a low-quality food diet, get fewer hours of sleep every night, and smoke. The researchers also found the association between evening chronotype and diabetes risk only in those nurses who worked day shifts and not those who had overnight shifts.
The researchers hope that this association can help in drawing up preventative strategies. Previous studies have also linked sleep habits with diabetes. For instance, in June, a study presented at the ENDO 2023 conference, found that people who sleep more than 10 hours and those who sleep less than 6 hours have the highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to Medical News Today. The researcher stated that the amount of sleep to help prevent diabetes is seven hours a night.