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Nov 30, 2018

Night owls may have an increased risk of chronic diseases

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Circadian rhythms are important in determining the sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals, including human beings.

The body and its functions operate on a 24-hour cycle, which is regulated by an internal clock system known as the circadian rhythm. This determines the optimal timing of key physiological processes including when one should sleep, eat and perform physical activity. Individual adherence to the circadian rhythm is greatly influenced by an individual’s chronotype i.e. whether one has a preference towards being an early bird (morning chronotype) or a night owl (evening chronotype).

A new publication lead by Nestlé Research, in collaboration with academics from Northumbria University (UK), University of Surrey (UK), London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (UK), Plymouth Marjon University (UK), École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (Switzerland), University Medical Center Rotterdam (Netherland), Örebro University (Sweden) and the National University of Singapore, looked at current research on chronotype, to determine its association with dietary intake behaviours and health.

The review found that individuals with an evening chronotype are more likely to have a lower intake of fruits and vegetables, and higher intake of energy-drinks, sugary and caffeinated beverages, as well as a higher intake of energy from fats. Such dietary behaviours are linked to increased blood pressure, impaired glucose and lipid handling, which in turn are linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.

Although this is a relatively new area of research, the evidence suggest that it could be possible to develop tailored dietary strategies that can help prevent and manage chronic diseases based on one’s chronotype.

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