Night Owls Tend to Be More Sedentary

A study done at Northwestern University in Chicago suggests that night owls are more sedentary and feel that they have a harder time maintaining an exercise schedule. The research abstract was published in June 2014 in an online supplement of the journal Sleep, and presented on Wednesday, June 4th in Minneapolis at SLEEP 2014, the 28th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Later sleep times were associated with a less active lifestyle, but night owls of al ages turned out to be more sedentary than larks regardless of what time they actually went to bed or woke up. People who characterized themselves as night owls reported more sitting time and more perceived barriers to exercise, including not having enough time for exercise and being unable to stick to an exercise schedule.

A release from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine quotes principal investigator Kelly Glazer Baron, PhD as saying “We found that even among healthy, active individuals, sleep timing and circadian preference are related to activity patterns and attitudes toward physical activity. Waking up late and being an evening person were related to more time spent sitting, particularly on weekends and with difficulty making time to exercise.”

The study group comprised 123 healthy adults with a self-reported sleep duration of at least 6.5 hours. Sleep variables were measured by seven days of wrist actigraphy along with sleep diaries. Self-reported physical activity and attitudes toward exercise were evaluated by questionnaires including the International Physical Activity Questionnaire.

According to Baron, the study suggests that circadian factors should be taken into consideration as part of exercise recommendations and interventions, especially for less active adults.

“Sleep timing should be taken into account when discussing exercise participation,” she added. “We could expect that sleep timing would play even a larger role in a population that had more difficulty exercising.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that adults get at last 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week and participate in muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week.

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