By 8:30 at night, my mind starts to shut down. For me, staying up late means staying up until 10 or maybe even 11. I honestly take a nap to make it late enough to see New Year’s. I share this trait with my long-suffering dad. My mom, on the other hand, starts to warm up around 9:30 or 10 at night. Some of my earliest memories are of the smell of Mr. Muscle floor cleaner long past my bedtime as my mom took advantage of all three of her kids being temporarily down for the count. A new study in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism indicates that being a night owl may not be the healthiest choice. The study looked at whether a person’s metabolism and body fat was affected by staying up late even if the night owl was getting the same amount of sleep as the early riser.
The study of 1620 people between the ages of 47 and 59 in Korea found that for men, being a night owl was associated with diabetes and sarcopenia (muscle loss) while it was associated with metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions such as high blood pressure, excess belly fat and abnormal cholesterol levels that occur together) in women.
Most people transition through Night Owl and Early Bird sleep patterns as they age, being Early Birds as young children, Night Owls as teenagers do and transitioning to Early Birds as older adults. One of the study authors, Dr. Nan Hee Kim from the Korea University College of Medicine theorized that night owls might engage in less healthy lifestyles including eating late at night, smoking and being more sedentary, which could be the cause of their poorer quality health. Night owls who are concerned about how their sleep patterns affect their health can modify their sleep schedules by reducing exposure to light late at night and taking melatonin (but see your doctor first).
Diabetes is one of the chief reasons older adults end up in nursing homes. Preventing diabetes, one of the most preventable diseases, protects your independence and your pocketbook.