Early Risers, Better Dieters?


BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — You’ve probably heard the phrase: “early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” But now research is showing there may be some scientific truth to that old adage.

Are you a morning person … or a night owl?

A new study suggests your answers to that question may predict your food choices. Researchers looked at nearly two-thousand people to see if different internal time clocks affect diet in early risers and night owls.

“Interestingly, if you look over the course of the entire day, both early risers and night owls eat the same total amount of calories throughout the day, but there’s some differences in the macronutrients they eat,” said Courtney Peterson, Assistant Professor for the Department of Nutrition Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Peterson says the night owls tended to eat less protein and more sugary foods, and their eating habits were worse on weekends.

Peterson continued, “So, this gives us some suggestion that night owls are eating more junk food or refined food throughout the day.”

Being a night owl is also linked to a higher risk of heart disease and cancer. Some studies show going to bed later results in poorer sleep quality and less physical activity.

But Peterson says you can change your internal clock to become an early riser. First, get bright light exposure as early as possible. Ideally, 30 to 60 minutes within an hour or two of waking. Next, reduce blue light exposure from computers, tablets and TV’s after about six p.m. You can buy blue-blocker glasses or get an app like “flux”, which filters out blue light on your computer screen. Also, try going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night. And most importantly…

“The best thing you can do to help sync yourself to any schedule is actually to wake up at the same time every day, not necessarily to go to sleep at the same time every day.” Peterson stated.

It could turn you into an early riser, and maybe even a healthier eater!

Peterson says the number of meals you eat per day doesn’t really seem to matter when it comes to weight loss. What does matter is the time period that you eat your food. She says the smaller the time period you spend eating, the better.

Contributors to this news report include: Julie Marks, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor. 

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REPORT #2450

BACKGROUND: When you sleep, your body is working to support healthy brain function and maintain your physical health. It’s an important role in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels.  Not enough sleep is linked to an increased risk of heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease, stroke, high blood pressure and obesity. Sleep is important for children and teens because it releases the hormone that promotes growth and development. This hormone repairs cells and tissues and boosts muscle mass. Sleep deficiency in children and teens can also cause them to feel angry and impulsive, have mood swings, feel sad or depressed, or lack motivation as well as cause stress and problems with them paying attention resulting in lower grades. A good night’s sleep helps your brain work properly and improves your learning and problem solving skills and helps you pay attention, make decisions, and be creative. Sleep deficiency also has been linked to depression, suicide, and risk-taking behavior. After losing 1-2 hours of sleep per night for several nights your ability to function suffers as if you haven’t sleep at all for a day or two. Lack of sleep may lead to microsleep that occurs when you’re normally awake. For example, if you have ever driven somewhere and then not remembered part of the trip, you may have experienced microsleep. Studies also show that sleep deficiency harms your driving ability as much as, or more than, being drunk.

(Source: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/sdd/why)

THE STUDY: A third of Americans get less than 7 hours of sleep a night and more than a third of adults in the U.S. are obese according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Skimping on sleep has long been associated with overeating, poor food choices and weight gain. Erin Hanlon, PhD, a research associate in endocrinology, diabetes and metabolism at the University of Chicago and colleagues did a study to understand how the endocannabinoid system connected short sleep with weight gain. The team recruited 14 healthy men and women in their 20s. They were all monitored in two situations: one four day stay where they spent 8.5 hours in bed each night and one four-day stay where they spent 4.5 hours in bed. The participants ate identical meals three times a day. The sleep deprived subjects expressed greater desire to eat and they chose foods that provided 50 percent more calories, including twice the amount of fat, as when they were completing the normal sleep phase. They also had trouble limiting their snack consumption. The results confirmed that if you are sleep deprived, your hedonic drive for certain foods gets stronger, and your ability to resist them may be impaired.

(Source: http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/expert-blog/tips-for-better-sleep/bgp-20094773; https://sciencelife.uchospitals.edu/2016/02/29/sleep-loss-boosts-hunger-and-unhealthy-food-choices/)

CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS: Each of us has an individual sleep schedule kept on track by our circadian rhythms, which is biological activity regulated by body temperature, sleep cycle, hormone secretion, and external factors like light and darkness. For some people, however, despite these physical and environmental cues, their internal clocks do not sync up with the world’s expectations. Those who go to bed between 6 p.m. and 9 p.m. and wake up early between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. may be the one percent of adults who have advanced sleep phase disorder. However, as many as 15 percent experience the flip side called delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS) which is an inability to fall asleep and wake up at the desired time. Approximately 50 percent of people with DSPS experience depression and even obesity. They typically fall asleep several hours later and may be forced to wake up earlier against their natural circadian tendency. Many of the important things going in your body rely on this internal clock. Tips for resetting your internal clock: slowly scale back on bedtime, avoid naps, get up at the same time every day, be strict about your sleep schedule, consider “bright-light therapy”, avoid bright and outdoor light close to bedtime, try melatonin, create a relaxing bedroom routine (warm bath, relaxing music) and avoid eating or exercising close to bedtime.

(Source: http://www.everydayhealth.com/sleep/insomnia/resetting-your-clock.aspx; http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/reset-sleep-cycle#1)

* For More Information, Contact:

Courtney Peterson                                          Alicia Rohan, Public Relations

cpeterson@uab.edu                                       UAB