Night Owls Have Higher Risk of Early Death

Night owls

GETTYNight owls are more likely to die earlier than their early to sleep counterparts

According to a new study, which the journal Chronobiology International recently published, this might bring with it diabetes, psychological issues and most importantly, an increased risk of early death.

Fellow author Kristen Knutson of the Northwestern University in Chicago said: "Night owls trying to live in a morning-lark world may (suffer) health consequences". "You can't start drifting later on weekends or vacations because you'll be back into night owl habits", she warns.

Their findings fit in with other reports that show people who stay up later at night have higher risks of diabetes, high blood pressure and some types of cancer.

But she said: "You're not doomed". Participants in the initiative, which took place from 2006 to 2010, defined themselves as either a "morning person" or "evening person". Everything from work time to meal time occurs at a time that doesn't feel right for night owls, a state that researchers call "social jetlag". But even after accounting for these conditions, the study still found that evening people had a slightly higher risk of dying during the study period, compared with morning people. One way to shift your behaviour is to make sure you are exposed to light early in the morning but not at night, Knutson said.

A survey of more than 430,000 people in Britain found that night owls had a 10-percent higher risk of dying in the 6.5-year study period than "larks". "This mismatch between their internal clock and their external world could lead to problems for their health over the long run, especially if their schedule is irregular". Though the study didn't examine the cause of this correlation, researchers suspect the problem doesn't actually have to do with sleeping in, specifically.

For those who still struggle with mornings, finding a job that has flexible hours or hours more consistent with your biological clock could be a solution.

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In order for the researchers to establish natural circadian rhythm - body clock - they were asked to identify as "definitely a morning person", "more a morning person than evening person", "more an evening than a morning person" or "definitely an evening person". In the study, the researchers say that estimates are that between 21% and 52% of what determines chronotype has genetic roots.

But regardless of the reason for the link, people may have some control over whether they are morning or evening people, the researchers said.

Although the researchers controlled for ethnicity, almost 94% of the participants identified as Caucasian, meaning the results may not be generalizable to other demographics, according to Zeitzer.

Knutson and colleagues also said that the society can help.

Being a night owl was associated with psychological stress, eating at the wrong time, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and drug or alcohol use.

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