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© 2017 Vancouver Dietitians

Blog & Recipes

  • by Kiersten O'Hara, Alexandra Inman

Early Birds May Make Healthier Food Choices Than Night Owls


Being a morning person might have more benefits than you think!

According to recent studies published in Obesity, the scientific journal of Obesity Society, researchers observed that early risers (as determined by a shortened version of Horne and Östberg’s Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire) chose to eat healthier, more balanced meals throughout the day. As previous studies have also shown, early morning risers had a lower risk for diabetes and heart disease, and also had an easier time losing weight. Scientists studied the relationship between chronotypes (one’s natural biological clock) and intakes of energy energy and macronutrients at 10am and at 8pm. The results identified that those who were awake earlier in the morning, although having higher energy and macronutrient intake at 10am, had a lower intake of macronutrients, energy intake, sucrose, fats and saturated fatty acids than those that had woken up later. The same was true on the weekends revealing an even more pronounced difference between the two groups, unfavourable towards “night types”. Research showed that night owls also ate less protein compared to early birds. As well, the “night types” had irregular meal times and had twice as many eating sessions (i.e. snacking). Based upon these results, researchers concluded that “night types” may have more unfavourable eating and food habits versus those who wake up and go to bed earlier.

So what does this mean for you?

Try to wake up and go to sleep at a reasonable time! The National Sleep Foundation’s new recommendations state that younger adults (age 18-25) require 7-9 hours of sleep, while older adults (age 26-64) require 7-8 hours of sleep. Although it’s often easier said than done, making efforts to get enough sleep may make significant improvements to your health. So to help with our night-thriving readers, we’ve compiled a list of tips and tricks that may make getting to sleep earlier possible.

Stop using your phone a few hours before bed:

Studies have shown that the blue light used by smartphones decrease levels of melatonin because this kind of light tells your body to stay awake, making it hard for your body to fall asleep. Plug your phone in to charge across your bedroom (but make sure your alarm is on!).

Cut out the caffeine, alcohol and tobacco well before bedtime:

These substances keep the body awake and alert, which can interfere with getting to sleep on time.

Temperature check:

A bedroom that is slightly cool (but not cold) is ideal for sleep. If you don’t have air conditioning, get a screen for your window or invest in a bedroom fan to keep you cool.

Relax!

Try adding meditation, soothing music or deep breathing to your nightly routine to calm your body into a relaxed, ready-to-sleep state. Creating a bedtime routine can also help some people prepare their body for sleep.

Have questions? Or having troubles with nighttime eating and/or weight management? Get started on your health and wellness journey with Alex or Stephanie today, by clicking here.

Works Cited

  1. National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Hirshkowitz, Max et al.Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation , Volume 1 , Issue 1 , 40 - 43. http://www.sleephealthjournal.org/article/S2352-7218%2815%2900015-7/fulltext. Accessed August 21, 2017.

  2. Obesity Society. "Early birds may make healthier food choices than night owls." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 February 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/02/170223102709.htm>.

  3. Steve “S.J.” Scott. “How to Get a Good Night’s Sleep (10 steps for improved sleep)”. Level Up Your Day: How to Maximize the 6 Essential Areas of Your Daily Routines. Old Town Publishing LLC, December 20, 2014, http://www.developgoodhabits.com/sleep-before-midnight/. Accessed August 13, 2017.

  4. Winder, Andy. “Sleeping Infant.” babygaga.com. April 9, 2017. http://www.babygaga.com/inside-the-minds-of-sleeping-babies-14-things-you-didnt-know/. Accessed August 13, 2017.

#sleep #healthyhabits #healthyliving #earlyrisers #healthychoices