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April 2021

Early to Bed, Early to Rise a Wise Choice for People with Diabetes

Forget the worm. A new study suggests that for people with type 2 diabetes, early birds get something even better: the health-boosting benefits of exercise.

British researchers asked more than 600 people with diabetes to wear a tracker. The device recorded both their sleep and exercise habits.

Night owls who went to bed and got up later tended to move less and sit more. Each day, they logged about 10 fewer minutes of physical activity—half as much as those who were earlier to bed and rise. And they were sedentary an additional half-hour.

The power of movement

Physical activity has health benefits for everyone. But for those with diabetes, more movement—and less sitting—becomes especially important.

Exercise helps control your blood glucose levels and improves your body’s ability to use insulin. Not to mention, it wards off diabetes-related complications like nerve damage and heart disease.

Government guidelines recommend 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. You can get there by stacking up several sessions of brisk walking, biking, or even lawn or housework.


Make yourself a morning person

There are a couple reasons night owls may move less. Late nights may naturally lend themselves to more sedentary pursuits, such as watching TV. And evening workouts can all too easily fall by the wayside after a long day, when chores or family responsibilities call.

Not an early riser? Health experts say these tendencies can change. Exercising in the morning might make it easier to stick to the habit. Over time, it may even shift your body clock.

Another way to help: Expose yourself to bright light as early as you can. Consider putting your bedroom light on a timer. Set it to turn on 15 to 30 minutes before you wake up. Or, eat your breakfast near a sunlit window. At night, keep the lights dim and turn off electronic devices 30 minutes before bedtime.




Online Medical Reviewer: Brian McDonough, MD
Online Medical Reviewer: Ray Turley, BSN, MSN
Date Last Reviewed: 12/1/2020
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