Night owls are at a higher risk of developing heart disease and type 2 diabetes than early risers, according to new research.
Published in Experimental Physiology, the US study found that night owls – people who prefer to be active later in the day – have a reduced ability to use and burn fat for energy, allowing them to accumulate in the body.
This can lead to an increase risk of type 2 diabetes and heart diseasefound researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey.
On the other hand, early risers – those who are more active in the morning – need more fat as an energy source because they are more energetic with more hours in the day and therefore have lower levels of higher physical fitness than night owls.
The researchers split the participants into two groups based on their chronotypes – our natural propensity to seek activity and sleep at different times.
After a week of monitoring, researchers found that early risers used more fat for energy at rest and during exercise than night owls.
Each group was tested at rest before undertaking two 15-minute treadmill workouts – one moderate and one high intensity.
Following monitoring of fuel preferences, individuals were tested for their aerobic fitness levels during an incline challenge, with the incline increased by 2.5% every two minutes until the person reaches the point of exhaustion.
“Early risers are more physically active”
Participants consumed a calorie- and nutrition-controlled diet with overnight fasting to reduce the chance that their diet would affect results.
Lead author and Rutgers University professor Steven Malin said: “Because chronotype appears to impact our metabolism and hormonal action, we suggest that chronotype could be used as a factor to predict the risk of illness of an individual.
“We also found that early risers are more physically active and have higher fitness levels than night owls who are more sedentary throughout the day.
“Further research is needed to examine the link between chronotype, exercise, and metabolic adaptation to determine if exercising earlier in the day has greater health benefits.”
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