Study Reveals Night Owls Are at Higher Risk of Getting Diabetes

A recent comprehensive study conducted by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston has uncovered a significant link between evening “chronotypes” and an increased risk of developing diabetes. The findings, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, emphasize the importance of considering sleep-wake patterns in relation to health outcomes.

Chronotype, or circadian preference, refers to a person’s preferred timing of sleep and waking and is partially influenced by genetics. The study, led by Associate Epidemiologist Tianyi Huang, suggests that individuals with an evening chronotype, often referred to as “night owls,” face a 19 percent higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, even after adjusting for lifestyle factors.

The research analyzed data from 63,676 female nurses enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II between 2009 and 2017. It included assessments of chronotype, diet, weight, BMI, sleep patterns, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, and family diabetes history.

The study revealed that evening chronotypes had a 72 percent higher diabetes risk before considering lifestyle factors, and this risk remained elevated at 19 percent after adjusting for these factors. Notably, participants with unhealthy lifestyles were more likely to identify as evening chronotypes.

The study suggests that tailored work scheduling based on chronotype could be a valuable strategy in managing health risks. However, it’s important to note that this research primarily involved white female nurses, and further studies are needed to confirm its applicability to broader populations and establish causality.

Future investigations will delve into genetic determinants of chronotype and their potential association with cardiovascular diseases in larger and more diverse populations, aiming to provide a deeper understanding of the link between chronotype and various health conditions.

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