Night owls, or individuals who prefer staying up late, tend to have poorer health and are at a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Night owls, or individuals who prefer staying up late, tend to have poorer health and are at a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Night Owls at a Higher Risk of Diabetes: The Downside of Being a Night Owl

Image: Night Owl

Staying up late comes naturally to some folks, whether they’re working or relaxing deep into the night. But did you know that being a night owl might come at a cost to one’s health? A new study has found that people who are night owls have a higher risk than early birds of becoming diabetic[^1^].

In the study, researchers analyzed data for nearly 64,000 female nurses who participated in the long-term Nurses’ Health Study, collecting their health data from 2009 to 2017[^1^]. The participants self-reported their chronotype, indicating whether they perceived themselves to be an evening person or a morning person[^1^]. About 11% of the nurses identified as night owls, while 35% were early birds, with the rest falling somewhere in between[^1^].

The results showed that night owls are in general more likely to have an overall unhealthy lifestyle[^1^]. They were found to have poor dietary habits, an unhealthy weight, and less physical activity[^1^]. They were also more likely to be current smokers or consume alcohol excessively and have poor sleep habits[^1^]. Even when accounting for these lifestyle differences, night owls still had a higher risk of diabetes compared to early birds[^1^]. This increased risk dropped from 72% to 19% when lifestyle factors were taken into account, indicating that there may be other factors at play[^1^].

The researchers believe that there might be a genetic predisposition to being a night owl, and going against this natural tendency could be detrimental to health[^1^]. Understanding the genetic markers associated with chronotype could potentially help protect the health of night owls[^1^]. Further research is needed in this area to determine if these genes play a role in diabetes development[^1^].

It is worth noting that the increased risk of diabetes associated with being a night owl was primarily seen in individuals who had worked less than 10 years of night shifts in the past[^1^]. This suggests that matching one’s work schedule to their chronotype could help reduce the risk[^1^]. For those who have a natural inclination to staying awake late, policies that advocate for flexible work hours or personalized schedules could be beneficial[^1^].

However, changing one’s chronotype is much harder compared to adopting healthier lifestyle choices such as improving diet, increasing exercise, and getting adequate sleep[^1^]. Chronotype modification, known as chronotherapy, is an option that some clinics and doctors offer, but it requires professional attention and is more complex[^1^].

Overall, the study highlights the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle for night owls, especially considering their increased risk of diabetes[^1^]. While it remains unclear whether chronotype is a causal risk factor or merely reflects the clustering of lifestyle and other factors, individuals who identify as night owls should prioritize their well-being by practicing healthy habits[^1^].

In conclusion, being a night owl might have its drawbacks, particularly when it comes to the risk of developing diabetes[^1^]. However, with further research on the genetic components of chronotype and a focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle, night owls can take steps to protect their long-term health and well-being[^1^].

Image: Blood Sugar Level


  1. Thompson, D. (2023, September 12). Night owls have higher risk of diabetes. HealthDay. Retrieved from /
  2. Harvard Medical School. (n.d.). How Sleep Is Regulated. Retrieved from /