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Being a "Night Owl" Linked to Depression for Those With Diabetes

More studies are recognizing the role of sleep in overall health, along with diet and exercise.
People with type 2 diabetes (T2D) who stay up late are at greater risk for depression than those who go to bed and get up early, according to findings presented this weekend at the Endocrine Society’s annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.

The study is important because depression is common among patients with T2D, and the study adds to the evidence that sleep is as important a component of good health as proper diet and exercise.

“Previous studies show that untreated depression is related to worse patient outcomes, including diabetes self-care, blood glucose control and diabetes complications,” lead investigator Sirimon Reutrakul, MD, of Mahidol University in Bangkok, Thailand, said in a statement.

Overall, those who are awake at night have been shown to struggle more with depression, and Reutrakul wanted to study whether this applied to those with T2D, where rates of depression are higher than in the general population.

Her research group studied 194 patients from the United States, 70% of whom were women. A group in Thailand included 282 patients, of whom 67% were women. Both groups answered questionnaires about symptoms of depression, sleep quality, and when they preferred to be awake or asleep.

In both groups, the “night owls” reported more symptoms of depression than the early risers. Results held up after adjusting for age, gender, and sleep quality.

Reutrakul said while the results show a link between body clock regulation and psychological well-being in people with T2D, the study did not show a cause and effect. More research would be needed to understand the connection, she said.

“We need further research to explore a combination of interventions that help with circadian timing, such as light therapy and melatonin,” she said. “Learning more about the relationship between depression and circadian functioning might help us figure out strategies to improve physical and mental health for patients with diabetes.”


Saetung S, Hood MM, Nimitphone H, Siwasaranond N, Crowley SJ, Reutrakul S.  Later chronotype is associated with greater depressive Symptoms in type 2 diabetes patients: a study in two different ethnic cohorts. Presented at the 99th Meeting of The Endocrine Society, Orlando, Florida; April 1-3, 2017. Abstract OR11-3.

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