The old saying goes, “The early bird gets the worm.” And when it comes to the study of sleep medicine and how sleep patterns relate to good health, that saying very well might be true!
Whether you’re an early riser or a night owl depends largely on your unique internal biological clock, or circadian rhythm. One study found that night owls make up around 20 percent of the population.
If you’re one of the people who associates the wee hours with improved productivity, it turns out that your biological clock may simply be “set” differently. Let’s look at some of the trends that sleep researchers have discovered.
Are Night Owls Less Healthy?
Sleep medicine specialists have conducted many studies to determine whether being an early riser or a night owl is more beneficial, or if it doesn’t matter either way.
One study found that people who stay up late and struggle to rise in the morning are 10 percent more likely to die sooner, and are more prone to a host of health risk factors. Night owls were found to be 30 percent more likely to suffer from high blood pressure, which is a precursor to many medical ailments.
Night owls were also found to generally exercise less often and make comparatively less healthy food choices. They were also found to be exposed to higher levels of stress (both psychological and physical) during their daily duties.
How Can Sleep Patterns Affect Me?
The body’s metabolism is largely affected by this misalignment between the person’s internal clock and daylight. Because circadian rhythms anticipate what a person will be doing at different points throughout the day, engaging in participatory activities such as eating at later times can cause the body to process glucose improperly.
When a person’s body reacts this way, it can make night owls more prone to developing Type 2 diabetes and other metabolic syndromes – including high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and high cholesterol.
How Sleep Patterns Affect How Much You Sleep
“Sleep debt” is the difference between the amount of sleep you should be getting and the amount of sleep you actually get. Night owls, and those who stay up late, are most prone to incurring sleep debt.
Before you attempt to make up for lost sleep on the weekend or during the day with a cat nap, it’s important to note that naps don’t make up for lost sleep during the night. They should only be done if necessary, as they can disrupt your regular sleep schedule.
While not everyone has the luxury of changing their sleep schedule (whether due to work schedules or other obligations), there are some simple ways to reset your body clock and your sleep schedule. Getting some sunlight exposure early in the morning has been shown to counteract the melatonin, or sleep hormone, in the body that makes us tired.
Sleep Doctor in Chicago
If you’re concerned about your sleep schedule, or if you feel sleepy throughout the day, consider working with a sleep medicine specialist. The dedicated medical professionals at Northwest Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine offer many tools and methods to help you get back to good sleeping habits.
Discover your solution for sound sleep. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call us today at (815) 477-7350 or fill out our online appointment request form. We look forward to helping you finally get some ZZZ’s and enjoy a restful sleep every night.