There are people who set their alarm clocks at 8.00 A.M and 9.00 A.M. in the morning and these are not the ones who work on rotational shift but have a normal circadian rhythm. Branded as ‘late-night owls’ these people are at a 10% increased risk of early death than others, according to a study.
Sun rise marks the start of a bright new day, sun set denotes the end of a man’s work for the day and the white moon indicates that it is time to sleep. There was no electricity during earlier times and humans functioned relying on these nature elements to survive every single day of his/her life. Science and technology has enabled us to lead comfortable lives and ruined our natural lifestyle.
Sunrise & Sunset
Getting up early in the morning to start your day is the best way to stay healthy as it paves way for exercise, a healthy breakfast and a good early start devoid of stress to reach your school/college/workplace. Human body is designed to match certain aspects and vast deviations from these create a turmoil on our body functioning. The study which collected data from participants aged between 38 and 73 asked the individuals to categorize themselves as a ‘definite morning type’, ‘moderate morning type’, ‘moderate evening type’ or a ‘definite evening type’. When the same research team looked at the status of participants after a time-span of 6.5 years (age, sex, ethnicity, smoking, BMI and socioeconomic status was adjusted), they found that the chance of an early death was lowest in the ‘definite morning type’ group and the risk gradually increased as the individuals got up late. Of the 433,268 participants, almost 10,000 people died and the definite evening types had a 10% greater mortality risk compared to the definite morning types.
Late risers are bound for a cascade of unhealthy side effects and are victims of mental and physical illnesses. Compared to the definite morning types, night owls are 90% more likely to have psychological disorders and 30% more likely to have diabetes along with gastrointestinal, respiratory and neurological disorders as well. These individuals are also at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancers (prostate and breast).
Psychological health problems had the greatest impact as the study found that late night owls were two-times at an increased risk compared to early morning larks. Further research is needed to find out what we mean by a psychological problem-depression, anxiety or anything beyond that. A 2014 study showed that people who are wide awake late nights have less white matter in certain areas of brain that is associated with depression. White matter helps coordinate communication between different areas of the nervous system.
Even sleeping early or getting up late is determined by a mixture of inherited and environmental factors, but the individual has certain degrees of freedom up to which he/she can rewrite gene code. To be precise, almost 40-70% of a person’s circadian rhythm is genetic while the rest is due to environmental factors. Changes don’t happen overnight. You cannot go to sleep three hours early tonight just because you want to. Gradual changes happen and some ways to shift or alter your circadian body clock include:
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.