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Night Owls Beware: When You Sleep is Just As Important as How Much You Sleep

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If your idea of a bedtime routine involves binge watching Netflix till 3 am, you may be setting yourself up for long term health problems.

When we talk about sleep, most of us only focus on whether or not we’re getting the recommended six to eight hours per night. But, this type of thinking is surprisingly shortsighted. According to a new study published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, when you sleep matters just as much as how long you sleep. Night owls are more likely to develop diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and sarcopenia than early risers, even when they sleep the same number of hours per day.

The study looked at the difference between night and morning chronotypes, also known as your natural sleep-wake cycles. The results suggested that staying awake late at night is likely to cause sleep loss, poor sleep quality, and eating at inappropriate times. After several years, this leads to permanent metabolic changes that up the risk of developing diabetes and other medical issues.

“Regardless of lifestyle, people who stayed up late faced a higher risk of developing health problems like diabetes or reduced muscle mass than those who were early risers,” said Nan Hee Kim, MD, PhD, of Korea University College of Medicine in Ansan, Korea. “This could be caused by night owls’ tendency to have poorer sleep quality and to engage in unhealthy behaviors like smoking, late-night eating, and a sedentary lifestyle.”

Changing your natural sleep preference isn’t easy, but may be well the worth the effort if you already have a family history of these types of health problems. Put down the remote, turn off the TV, and resolve to stick to a respectable bedtime no matter what new shows Netflix decides to add!



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