Night owls likely to die earlier than morning larks, study reveals

Young woman with insomnia cover her face with hand in bed

If the early bird catches the worm, what is the night owl more likely to catch?

Dr Kristen Knutson from Northwestern University in Chicago, said: 'Night owls trying to live in a morning lark world may have health consequences for their bodies.

"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.

Society should wake up to the real difficulties faced by night owls, said the researchers.

The researchers also called for more studies on whether night owls can adjust their circadian rhythms so that they become morning people, and whether such an adjustment would lower those individuals' risk of health problems.

Deaths in the sample were tracked up to six and half years later - and then it was calculated what type of person was most likely to die.

People who go to bed late are more at risk of premature death than those who turn in early, new research has shown.

The study found that night owls have higher rates of diabetes, mental problems and neurobiological conditions. This was in comparison with the people identifying as "definite morning types".

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Researchers studied 433,268 people, aged 38 to 73, who defined themselves as either "definite morning" types, "moderate morning" types, "moderate evening" types or "definite evening" types. "Some people may be better suited to night shifts".

"This is just one piece of the puzzle", said Jamie Zeitzer, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences (sleep medicine) at the Stanford School of Medicine, who was not involved in the research.

'It could be that people who are up late have an internal biological clock that doesn't match their external environment. "It's not going work", Knutson said".

"Avoid becoming a night owl", she said. They called on employers to be more flexible towards staff who suffer when forced to clock in early.

"You can find a job that starts later, but that's not a particularly useful piece of advice for a lot of people", Zeitzer said.

The duo gathered information on almost half-a-million people aged 38-73 from a public database. "If you looked in Spain, where people are much later in terms of when they go to work, my guess is that the health consequences are probably less than in the United Kingdom". He also argued that the study is heavily based on findings from white Britons.

"An important message here is for night owls to realize that they have these potential health problems and therefore need to be more vigilant about maintaining a healthy lifestyle", Knutson added.

"It could be psychological stress, eating at the wrong time for their body, not exercising enough, not sleeping enough, being awake at night by yourself, maybe drug or alcohol use", Knutson said.

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