If you are an early riser, you may have a leg up on fighting weight gain and obesity. New research published this month in the journal Obesity found that as a group, “morning type” people eat earlier in the day and are choosing healthier foods overall than “evening type” people. For reference – morning types are those who are most alert and energetic in the morning while evening types are most alert and energetic later in the day. Other studies have found that eating earlier in the day is associated with weight loss and a reduced risk of diabetes and heart disease.
The findings may suggest that biological clocks not only affect metabolism, but what we choose to eat as well, according to a press release.
Researchers looked at data from nearly 2,000 randomly chosen people to determine if their biological clock affected what and when they ate. It did. Evening types ate less protein overall and ate more sucrose than morning types, especially in the mornings. On weekends, the differences were even bigger, with evening types having more irregular meal times and twice as many eating occasions. The evening types also slept worse and were less physically active overall.
So the real question here is: if I’m not a morning person, can I become one? The good news is yes. Sleep experts say with a little discipline, it is possible to reset your circadian clock. But it can take a lot of hard work and isn’t as easy as just going to bed earlier (if you aren’t tired you aren’t going to sleep no matter how early you go to bed). Turning off electronics an hour before bedtime and getting up 10-20 minutes earlier every day until you reach your goal may help, though. And if all else fails, go on a camping trip. Research has found that camping can help you get more sleep by helping the body produce melatonin (a natural sleep hormone) in sync with natural light rhythms.
Appalachia Health News is a project of West Virginia Public Broadcasting, with support from the Benedum Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center and WVU Medicine.