MONDAY, May 17, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Although obesity alone can increase your risk of heart disease, new research suggests that the risk of diabetes and heart disease is particularly high when they’re linked to the tendency to late in the morning Stay awake at night.
The finding comes from a comparison of sleep patterns and illnesses in 172 middle-aged people as part of an ongoing study on obesity prevention in Italy.
“The sleep-wake cycle is one of the most important behavioral rhythms in humans,” said lead researcher Dr. Giovanna Muscogiuri. She is Assistant Professor in the Department of Endocrinology at the University of Naples Federico II in Italy.
For the study, her team grouped participants according to their sleep patterns.
Almost six out of ten were early risers – the so-called “morning larks”. These people tend to wake up early in the day and be the most active.
About 13% were “night owls”. They usually woke up late and were most active in the late afternoon or evening.
The rest – roughly three out of ten – fell somewhere in between (the “intermediate type”).
Although study participants in all three groups had similar BMIs, night owls were more likely to eat large dinners and have other unhealthy habits such as tobacco use and sedentary lifestyle. (The BMI, or Body Mass Index, is an estimate of body fat based on height and weight.)
And all of that puts them at a higher risk of health problems.
While 30% of morning larks had heart disease, that number was nearly 55% for night owls, the study said.
The risk of type 2 diabetes was 9% for morning people and almost 37% for night owls. There was no difference between morning people and participants who were in the middle school category.
Muscogiuri noted that previous studies estimated that late risers have 1.3 times the risk of high blood pressure and high cholesterol compared to early risers. They are also less likely to follow a heart-healthy Mediterranean diet high in fruits, vegetables, and fish.
Taken together, she said, all of these traits put night owls at higher risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
To find the best way to combat it, Muscogiuri suggested that efforts to get obesity under control might be more successful with sleep patterns in mind.
The idea, she explained, would be to help obese patients develop better sleep-wake habits based on getting up earlier, since previous upward patterns could help such patients develop better eating and activity habits and thereby “their chances of success.” increase while losing weight. “
Unfortunately, getting people to change their sleep, food, and activities isn’t easy, warned cardiologist Dr. Kenneth Ellenbogen from Medical College in Virginia at Richmond.
“We know how difficult it can be to reset a person’s biological clock or activity habits,” he said. “And while this is certainly fascinating work, it’s really hard to know what is really going on in an observational study with a relatively small number of patients.”
For example, Elbogen noted that it is unclear whether “falling asleep” is a direct cause of the increased risk of type 2 diabetes or heart disease, or whether the lifestyle associated with sleeping indirectly increases the risk.
“I don’t understand the answer at all,” he said after reviewing the results. “And I certainly wouldn’t say that this study proves anything like cause and effect.”
Elbow suggested viewing the research as the beginning of an ongoing investigation into the relationships between sleep patterns and heart function.
The Muscogiuri team presented the results on Wednesday at a virtual meeting of the European Congress on Obesity. Research presented at the meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
To learn more about the links between sleep and heart health, visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
SOURCES: Dr. med. Giovanna Muscogiuri, Assistant Professor, Department of Endocrinology, University of Naples Federico II, Italy; Kenneth Ellenbogen, MD, chairman, Department of Cardiology, Virginia Commonwealth University Heart Center, and director, Clinical Cardiac Electrophysiology and Pacing, Medical College of Virginia, Richmond; Presentation, European Obesity Congress, May 12, 2021, online