Why early bedtime may be best for people with type 2 diabetes

  • People who go to bed late and get up late tend to get less exercise, putting their health at greater risk
  • This is especially true for type 2 diabetics
  • Changing their sleeping patterns could help get them back on a path to good health

It's long been said that early to bed, early to rise can make you healthy, wealthy and wise. Now, new research supports at least the health benefits.

A study of people with type 2 diabetes found that night owls – people who go to bed late and get up late – tend to get little exercise, putting their health at greater risk.

Understanding how sleep time can affect physical activity might help people with type 2 diabetes manage their health, said researcher Dr Joseph Henson of the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom.

"There is a massive need for large-scale interventions to help people with diabetes initiate, maintain and achieve the benefits of an active lifestyle," he said. "For people who prefer to go to bed later and get up later, this is even more important, with our research showing that night owls exercise 56% less than their early bird counterparts."

Insight into behaviour

Exercise is important for everyone, including people with diabetes. It helps maintain a healthy weight and blood pressure, and also reduces the risk of heart disease, Henson said.

For the study, more than 600 patients with type 2 diabetes wore tracking devices for a week to record intensity and time of their activity, including sleep, rest and overall physical activity.

The findings showed that 25% of the participants went to sleep and rose early; 23% went to bed late and got up late; and 52% did neither.

Researcher Dr Alex Rowlands, an adjunct research fellow at the University of South Australia, said the study offers insight into behaviour of people with type 2 diabetes.

"The link between later sleep times and physical activity is clear: go to bed late and you're less likely to be active," Rowlands said. "For someone with diabetes, this is valuable information that could help get them back on a path to good health."

The findings were published online recently in BMJ Open: Diabetes Research and Care.

Image credit:

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Show Comments ()
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.