Night owls at greater risk of death than early birds, say scientists
Night owls at greater risk of death than early birds, say scientists
Why night owls are more likely to die early: People who prefer to go to bed late damage their health because it impacts their heart and metabolism
13 April, 2018, 02:02
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. The lead author of the study, Kristen Knutson, is an associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. "Part of it you dont have any control over and part of it you might".
Staying up awake late in the night will make you feel much more than just being groggy in the morning. 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.
"You're not doomed", Knutson said. 35 percent as "more a morning person than an evening person", 28 percent as "more an evening than morning person" and 9 percent as "definitely an evening person".
What we think might be happening is, there's a problem for the night owl who's trying to live in the morning lark world.
Previous analyzes have suggested higher rates of cardiovascular disease and metabolic pathologies such as diabetes but this new study is the first to explore mortality risk.
"The next thing is what sort of intervention can we develop and test to see can we improve the health and well-being of people who are night owls", Knutson said.
Over the course of the study, 10,534 of the 433,000-plus participants died and researchers noted that those who identified as "evening people" in the study had a 10 percent higher mortality rate.
"It could be that people who are up late have an internal biological clock that doesn't match their external environment", Knutson said. 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.
Their advice on handling such an issue; Knutson said that: "If you can recognize who these people are, in part, genetically determined and not just a character flaw, jobs and work hours could have more flexibility for owls".
The researchers said that genetics and environment contribute to a person being a morning or a night person, which means that night owls can work their way to becoming morning larks. In the study, the researchers say that estimates are that between 21% and 52% of what determines chronotype has genetic roots.
The switch to daylight savings or summer time is already known to be much more hard for evening types than for morning types.
"It's limited because of that", he said.
He added that staying up late isn't inherently bad - it's only when you combine it with a society that pushes people to wake up early.
Chronotype was also measured based on self-reports rather than objective measures, one of the study's main limitations, according to Knutson.
"Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep - all of these things are important, and maybe particularly so for night owls".
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