If you have type 2 diabetes you are already at risk for health issues like heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, blindness and dental disease. That risk goes up if you are also a night owl, according to a new study.

Type 2 diabetes is usually the result of being overweight and sedentary. Over 400 million people have diabetes worldwide with type 2 diabetes accounting for 90 percent of cases. The number of people with type 2 diabetes is expected to rise to 700 million over the next 20 years.

Night owls got about half as much exercise as early birds, and this put the health of people with type 2 diabetes at further risk.

Looking for ways to help people with diabetes better manage the disease, researchers at the University of South Australia and the University of Leicester decided to focus on the time people with type 2 diabetes preferred to go to bed — their sleep chronotype — and their level of physical activity.

The study followed 635 people. Each person wore an accelerometer for seven days that recorded the intensity and time of their sleep, rest and overall physical activity.

Twenty-five (25) percent of people were morning chronotypes, going to bed about 11 pm. Twenty-three (23) percent were evening chronotypes and went to bed around 12:30 am. About half of the participants said they were neither chronotype.

Night owls got about half as much exercise as early birds, and this put the health of people with type 2 diabetes at further risk because exercise helps with diabetes management, according to Joseph Henson, a University of Leicester researcher and lead author of the study.

“The link between later sleep times and physical activity is clear: go to bed late and you're less likely to be active, ” added researcher Alex Rowlands of the University of South Australia.

“For someone with diabetes, this is valuable information that could help get them back on a path to good health,” Rowlands said.

A sleep schedule is something that can be shifted. For those with diabetes, going to bed earlier can help them better manage their blood sugar, and that could improve their lives considerably, especially if they add a little more exercise to their daily routine.

Physical activity guidelines recommend at least 2.5 to 3 hours of moderate-to-vigorous activity or between 1.25 to 2.5 hours of more vigorous activity each week, or some combination of both. This is especially important for people with type 2 diabetes because exercise helps control blood sugar levels, weight and blood pressure, and also reduces the risk of heart disease.

If you’re having trouble managing your diabetes, look at your bedtime. Going to bed earlier and avoiding late night snacks are good places to start. Find ways to be more physically active; even a little more exercise will help.

The study is published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.