If you are a night owl and practice keeping a late night lifestyle, then you are exposing yourself to a higher risk of many types of diseases. Many people these days are either busy working till the wee hours of morning actually, or they often ignore the time when they are having fun partying or even a simple task of rushing out in the middle of the night to buy some grocery item that was forgotten. However, though these are found to be common practices amongst people who are night owls, research now suggests that there are many negative health impacts of being a night owl, particularly when it comes to consuming food while being awake at odd hours of the morning.
So how does a late-night lifestyle affect your health? Let’s find out.
Higher Risk of Diseases for Night Owls
A recent study, published in the journal Advances in Nutrition, has analyzed the negative health impacts of having a late-night lifestyle, especially by studying what these individuals are eating while they are awake during the odd hours of the morning. The study posed the question, “does when you go to bed, affect your health? The authors of the study successfully proved that the answer to this simple question is yes.
The research team consisted of many employees of the food company Nestle. The team focused on a person’s chronotype or individual sleep pattern. Chronotype is more commonly referred to as the body’s circadian rhythm, or the sleep and wake cycles of your body as compared to the setting and rising of the sun.
The study examined several previously conducted research studies that explored the health habits of nighttime and daytime people and found that the so-called night owls tend to consume lesser amounts of vegetables and fruits, and also consume more alcoholic, caffeinated, and sugary drinks, along with energy drinks. They also had a higher energy consumption from fat.
Some studies also showed that people who stay up till the wee hours of the morning are more likely to skip meals, especially breakfast, and also change the time at which they have their food frequently.
While this research does not prove that there is a cause and effect relationship between eating poorly and going to sleep late, it definitely provides food for thought.
However, there are many other factors that have a direct impact on increasing the risk of diseases in night owls.
Understanding How Diet Affects the Life of a Night Owl
You will generally observe that the hours during which ‘night owls’ are most active are the time during which healthier restaurants and grocery stores are all closed. Even outlets that offer food delivery services are typically closed. This generally leaves the option of fast food restaurants or some corner stores that the person can depend on, which are generally known to offer suspicious food quality, foods that are high in sugar, fat, and salt.
Consuming sugary and fatty foods later in the day requires the body to undergo a long digestion period, which often leads to unwanted weight gain, issues with indigestion, and also significantly increases the risk of having a stroke.
Research has shown that one of the biggest consequence late night eating has on a person’s health is that it has a profound impact on maintaining healthy eating habits. When you consume a large meal towards the evening, then it can have serious consequences on your sleeping patterns and habits. When this large meal is something like a bag of chips with fountain soda or a hotdog or burrito, then it harms the body even more. These food options, consumed late at night, have been shown to lead to a shorter lifespan, that too marked by many types of painful diseases.
However, considering the options for those who are working during the late night hours, there is unlikely to be any other option available. For people such as freelancers and home workers, chronotype research has suggested that for these occupations, being a night owl is even a preferred choice. This is because, over a period of time, the manner in which people wake and go to sleep has evolved. This is why chronotype research now needs to take into consideration many other factors as well.
However, knowing how a late-night lifestyle can impact your health and avoiding the factors that increase your chances of getting preventable diseases, is the first step towards ensuring you avoid these risk factors, even if you have a late-night lifestyle.
If you have a late-night lifestyle, then the only way you have is to protect yourself from the common risks associated with a night owl lifestyle. One of the best ways to protect yourself if you are a night owl is to consciously avoid making impacting culinary decisions. For example, try going to the grocery store during the day itself and stock up on healthy snacks for the night. Buy bagged salads, bananas, low-fat cheeses, low-salt nuts, whole grain bread, and crackers. These foods will not only help you deal with any late-night food cravings and avoid piling up any unnecessary calories.
By making healthy choices and simple changes to your diet, you can also get better sleep. Try to blackout windows or install a white noise machine to allow your body the chance to get some natural rest.