Night Owls are at Higher Risk of Earlier Death


The six-and-a-half-year study recorded just over 10,500 deaths among the studied. Over the course of the study, just over 10,000 participants died, and researchers found that those who identified as "definite evening types" were 10 percent more likely to die than their sunrise-loving counterparts. These night owls also were found to have a higher risk of developing diabetes, and psychological and neurological disorders. The lead author of the study, Kristen Knutson, is an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.

"It is important for people who are night owls to learn there may be health consequences, but there may be things they can do to help overcome those problems", Knutson said. The study concluded that late risers are at risk of prematurely dying, irrespective of their health conditions.

The study looked at medical data from about 433,000 people ages 38 to 73 living in the United Kingdom over a 6.5-year study period.

The participants had defined themselves as either "definitely a morning person" (27 percent), "more a morning person than evening person" (35 percent), "more an evening than a morning person" (28 percent), or "definitely an evening person" (9 percent).

The research found "night owls" had a 10% greater risk of dying than morning people.

The risk of death was not increased for those who identified as "more a morning person" or "more an evening person" compared with the morning larks, according to the report. But there's a chance another factor is at play which the researchers might've missed.

"The findings for the mortality actually weren't as robust as I would have hoped". "So they want to be up late but they have to be up early for work and so the time that they're doing things, like waking up or eating, is not at the correct time for them".

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"It's interesting", Zeitzer said.

It should be noted that this study was done on a 94-percent-Caucasian population, so there is still much more research to be done to fully understand the differences between preferred sleep times.

Some bad news for those who like to stay up late. White matter consists of nerve projections that relay and coordinate communication between different areas of the nervous system.

Dr Knutson said that one way night owls could help themselves was to ensure they are exposed to light early in the morning, but not at night. Knutson said that "you're not doomed". "That not only makes it hard to fall asleep; it's also a signal to your clock to start being later again".

The researchers say that employers should adapt work schedules to fit the body clocks of people who struggle to get up in the morning.

What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?