Study finds that those who go to bed later face greater health risks

Whether because of their job, their study habits or their television preferences, many people would likely classify themselves as "night owls," meaning their sleeping patterns are such that they often go to bed late.

While you wouldn't necessarily imagine that people who adhere to a different sleep schedule would be at any elevated risk of developing a debilitating medical condition, a recent study suggests otherwise.

The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, examined the sleep patterns of over 1,600 people between the ages of 47 and 59, and conducted a battery of tests designed to assess their overall health.

Of these 1,600-plus people, 480 identified themselves as early risers, 95 identified themselves as night owls and the rest identified as being somewhere between the these two.

Somewhat shockingly, the researchers determined that those who went to sleep late at night were actually far more likely than their early morning counterparts to develop a host of health problems despite getting the same amount of sleep.

Some of the more notable findings included:

  • Men who kept late hours were at an elevated risk of developing diabetes or sarcopenia, a condition characterized by the reduction of muscle mass.
  • Women who kept late hours were at an elevated risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which is essentially a host of health issues that elevate the risk of diabetes, stroke and heart disease.

While the researchers stopped short of determining why these night owls faced such a higher risk of health issues, they theorized that it might have something to do with the fact that they perhaps live a more sedentary lifestyle, or practice unhealthy behaviors such as overeating.

More than anything what this study demonstrates is that people can suddenly develop otherwise debilitating medical conditions that prevent them from not only living life to the fullest, but also from earning a living.

When this happens, however, it's vital that people in these situations understand that they do have options. For instance, they may be able to secure Social Security disability benefits that will not only enable them to keep a roof over their heads, but also grant them peace of mind during these trying times.     

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