A recent study published in Chronology International suggests that being a night owl can prove detrimental to an individual’s health.
The study was co-led by Kristen Knutson, who works at the Northwestern University School of Medicine and examined the sleeping habits of 430,000 adult subjects over a six and a half year period.
Knutson and her team of researchers discovered that individuals who forego sleeping at night are placed at a higher risk for diabetes, as well as neuro and psychological impairments.
Knutson believes that that the adverse health effects experienced by those considered to be night owls are due to a disruption in their biological clocks. This mechanism is responsible for the regulation of both mental and physical processes throughout a 24 hour day. The biological clock responds to stimuli such as light which signals the processes to begin that are to take place during waking hours. Conversely, darkness instructs the body to begin the rest and repair activities that take place while sleeping.
Knutson explains that study results have revealed that having the body’s biological clock shifted out of balance can initiate a string of events in the body that can lead to negative health consequences. Dr. Knutson says that incorrect eating patterns, failure to exercise, and not getting enough sleep are a few of the patterns that can develop from not sleeping at night that can lead to health issues over time.
Knutson provides some optimism for those that light to keep late nights by saying that the outlook is not all gloom and doom. Her instruction to these individuals is to keep regular sleeping patterns even if sleeping hours are not at conventional times. Dr. Knutson also says that night owls should be sure to exercise greater diligence in regards to other health maintaining activities such as getting adequate nutrition and exercise.
Malcolm Van Schantz, the other co-author of the study who performs his duties in the United Kingdom at the University of Surrey, says that the issue is one of public health and that should not be forgotten.
Von Schantz warns that a careful eye should be placed on the custom of daylight savings time noting that it has been observed that heart attack issues rise in numbers each year immediately following the switch in time. Dr. Von Schantz finishes his admonishment of daylight savings time by saying it is time to compare the supposed benefits of the practice to the potential harm it causes individuals.