Are You a Night Owl? Here’s Why You May Have a Higher Risk for Disease

But making a few simple changes can help keep your late-night lifestyle from sending your health to the birds.

Is being a night owl having a negative impact on your health? Getty Images

It’s gotten so late that it’s early. You’ve been nose-down working and forgot to get groceries before the store closed.

But that was hours ago and the only current options are those with bright neon sights beaming into the dead of night.

These are common scenarios for so-called night owls, the yin to the yang that are early birds. They’re typically awake when their neighbors are asleep. 

But, unfortunately for our nighttime dwellers, those lack of nutritional options can have long-term health effects. 

A new study looked at the negative health impacts of being a night owl, particularly by examining what they’re eating while awake during the wee hours of the morning. 

The study, recently published in Advances in Nutrition, looked at available research and asked the question: Does when you go to bed affect your health? The short answer, according to the study authors, is yes it does.

The researchers — some of which are employees of food giant Nestle — focused on what’s known as a person’s chronotype. Your chronotype (or individual sleep pattern) is more commonly referred to as your circadian rhythm, or your sleep-wake cycles in relationship to the setting and rising of the sun. 

The researchers examined available research on the health habits of daytime and nighttime people. They found, overall, that so-called night owls typically eat fewer fruits and vegetables and consume more “energy drinks, alcoholic, sugary, and caffeinated beverages, as well as higher energy intake from fat.”

A few observational studies (those regarded as having the least amount of accuracy) also show night owls are more likely to change what time they eat and skip meals — most often breakfast.

While the research definitely provides food for thought, it doesn’t suggest a cause-and-effect relationship between staying up late and eating poorly.

Like many other things in life, there are many more factors at play.