Night owls with type 2 diabetes at higher risk of depression, research suggests

Benedict Jephcote
Mon, 03 Apr 2017
Night owls with type 2 diabetes at higher risk of depression, research suggests
People with type 2 diabetes who are night people are more likely to suffer from depression, a study has claimed.

Researchers made the conclusion after studying 476 people with the condition in both Chicago and Thailand to rule out any influence geography might have on sleeping patterns.

The research team led by Bangkok's Mahidol University Faculty of Medicine found that people in both locations who were active at night had more symptoms associated with depression compared to those who went to bed early and got up at the crack of dawn.

They said the findings were significant because of the combination of type 2 diabetes and depression increased the risk of complications of the condition.

The results of the study were presented to members of the Endocrine Society on Saturday, April 1, at its annual conference which has been taking place in Florida.

It has already been established that those who prefer the nights - who have a 'later chronotype' - are more likely to have depression than people with a preference for mornings, referred to as 'early chronotype'.

Type 2 diabetes carries a greater risk of depression generally and this study aimed to find out whether night owls with the condition had more symptoms of depression.

The researchers studied people in two different regions, as chronotype varies by location and there is an association between being closer to the equator and having a morning preference.

A total of 194 people in the US group and 282 people in Thailand completed questionnaires covering depression, quality of sleep and their night-time and morning patterns. The people in Chicago were studied from February to April, but those in Thailand were examined all year because of the country's steady climate.

Night owls from both countries displayed more symptoms of depression than early risers.

Associate professor at Mahidol University Faculty of Medicine Sirimon Reutrakul, who was the lead researcher, said the association between night owls with type 2 diabetes and depression was "only modest."

But she said: "These findings are important because depression is common in patients with type 2 diabetes. Also, previous studies show that untreated depression is related to worse patient outcomes, including diabetes self-care, blood glucose control and diabetes complications.

"We need further research to explore a combination of interventions that help with circadian timing, such as light therapy and melatonin. 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."

Funding for the study was provided by Mahidol University Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital in Bangkok and the Endocrine Society of Thailand as well as the Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center.
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