"Early Bird" Benefits Don't End with the Worm

Dear Living Well Daily Reader,

Friend, I’m one of those annoying “morning people.”

By the time the rest of my family gets up, I’ve already exercised, worked on a chapter of a book I’m writing and had breakfast.

I honestly don’t put any effort into being an early riser. It’s simply something I’ve done all of my life.

Yes, even in college, I got up at the crack of dawn. In fact, I can only remember a few times in my life sleeping past 9 AM. And those were all when I was a teenager.

But if you’re a night owl, you’re not alone. In fact, experts estimate that up to 30 percent of us prefer to burn the midnight oil.

But new evidence has come to light that might have you wanting to change your “night owl” ways.

It turns out regularly hitting the hay late could have serious consequences.

Being an early bird has always just made sense to me. I simply follow the sun: I wake when it rises and sleep when it sets, just like many other animals (including birds).

Scientists describe our preferential sleep patterns as “chronotypes.” There are morning chronotypes (people who wake early) and evening chronotypes (people who stay up late).

These chronotypes may have a basis in genetics or even survival, as it would be advantageous to have at least one person awake at all times of the day and night to protect your group or tribe.

But there’s growing evidence that people are simply adjusting their sleep schedule to what they like.

Most of the activities and events I enjoy doing happen in the morning. Some folks prefer to participate in evening or late-night activities instead.

Whatever the reasons for your own sleep schedule, research has now revealed that being a “night owl” can have unexpected (and unwanted) consequences.

A study published in the journal Experimental Physiology has uncovered a new night owl consequence.

Researchers discovered that folks who routinely stay up late have a reduced ability to burn fat for energy. This, in turn, raises their risk for diabetes and heart disease.

In the study, early birds not only used more fat for energy, but they were also more insulin sensitive.

In other words, their bodies use glucose more effectively, which naturally helps lower blood sugar. And, of course, keeping blood sugar in check is critical for staying healthy.

The good news is that it’s not written in stone if you’re currently a night owl. You CAN become an early bird.

Following are a few simple tips to help you make the transition from regularly burning the midnight oil to rising with the sun:

  • Start by waking up and going to bed two to three hours earlier than usual. This might sound impossible at first. But when you make the effort it’s by far the quickest way to transform from a night owl into an early bird.
  • Step outside and expose yourself to early morning and dusk sunlight daily. The receptors in our eyes react to the UV light at those times of day, and our circadian rhythm (sleep/wake cycle) adjusts in reaction. Stick to it, and you’ll find yourself slipping off to sleep more easily in the evenings and waking up feeling refreshed in the mornings.
  • Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, even on the weekends.
  • Avoid electronic screens (smartphones, tablets, televisions, computers) later in the day. The blue light from some of them can mess with your circadian rhythm, making falling asleep a challenge.
  • Avoid coffee or napping after 2 pm. Plan your exercise for the morning instead of the afternoon or evening.

P.S. Research has revealed that this nighttime threat could DESTROY your blood sugar balance and your sleep.

Source: “Early chronotype with metabolic syndrome favours resting and exercise fat oxidation in relation to insulin-stimulated non-oxidative glucose disposal,” Experimental Physiology, Early View: Online Version of Record before inclusion in an issue, First published: 19 September 2022, https://doi.org/10.1113/EP090613

Dr. Scott Olson, ND

Written By Dr. Scott Olson, ND

Nearly 25 years ago, failed mainstream medical treatments left Dr. Olson in constant pain – and his health in ruins. And that’s when he did something REVOLUTIONARY. He began his career in medicine – and dedicated his life to uncovering the true, underlying causes of disease.
Through his innovative medical practices in Tennessee and Colorado, Dr. Olson has helped cure countless seniors from across America of arthritis… heart disease… diabetes… and even cancer. All without risky prescription drugs or painful surgeries.

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