'Night owls' at greater risk of dying sooner


The researchers behind the study took a look at 504,642 people aged between 37 and 73 from the UK Biobank cohort. According to a new study, it's diabetes, psychological problems and an increased risk of dying. The researchers found that individuals who strongly preferred to stay up late had a 10% increased risk of mortality.

The participants had defined themselves as either "definitely a morning person" (27 per cent), "more a morning person than evening person" (35 per cent), "more an evening than a morning person" (28 per cent), or "definitely an evening person" (nine per cent).

Out of the 10,500 deaths recorded in the participants, 2,127 had cardiovascular causes.

Malcolm von Schantz, Professor of Chronobiology at the University of Surrey, said: 'This is a public health issue that can no longer be ignored. 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".

"Night owls trying to live in a morning lark world may have health consequences for their bodies", said co-lead author Kristen Knutson, Associate Professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, US.

In addition to overall mortality, being a night owl was associated with a number of health problems such as psychological, neurological, gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders.

'And we need more research about how we can help evening types cope with the higher effort of keeping their body clock in synchrony with sun time.

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The study also found that night owls have a higher risk for a variety of physical and mental ailments. For example, some studies have shown that evening people are less likely to eat a healthy diet and more likely to use substances such as alcohol and illegal drugs, compared with morning people.

"It could be that people who are up late have an internal biological clock that doesn't match their external environment", Knutson said in a statement.

"What we found is that the night owls, the definite evening types, were the ones that were at increased risk of mortality compared to the definite morning types - and the middle groups really weren't", she said.

The findings add to a growing body of research that suggests that being a night owl could have negative effects on health. "It's not going work", Knutson said".

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".

Young people tend to naturally be night owls, something that can shift throughout life. They sorted people by whether they were definite morning types (aka "morning larks"), definite evening types, moderate morning types or moderate evening types.

"Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep - all of these things are important, and maybe particularly so for night owls".