ibusinesslines.com July 23, 2018

Night owls 'more likely to die early'

12 April 2018, 09:26 | Melissa Porter

Night owls

Late Sleepers Die Sooner Than Early Risers

Nocturnal "night owls" who stay up late and struggle to get up in the mornings are more at risk of dying than "larks" who go to bed early and leap out of it the next day, new research suggests.

Along with the 10% increased risk of death compared to definite morning types, the more people identified as evening people, the greater their risk for a variety of medical conditions.

Scientists who studied a population of almost half a million Britons found that over a six-year period, night owls had a ten per cent greater risk of death than morning larks.

The researchers said society needs to recognize that making night owls start work early may not be good for their health.

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

"If the body is expecting you to do something at a certain time like sleep or eat and you're doing it at the quote "wrong time" then your body's physiology may not be working as well", she explains.

But the study should still be a wake-up call for night owls, who may want to take extra efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle, she said.

Prof Malcolm von Schantz, at the Guildford university, said: "This is a public health issue". "Mortality risk in evening types may be due to behavioural, psychological and physiological risk factors, many of which may be attributable to chronic misalignment between internal physiological timing and externally imposed timing of work and social activities". Teenagers tend to naturally have later chronotypes (body clocks shift throughout life and most teens are night owls), and a growing body of research has shown that shifting school start times later improves school performance.

"You're not doomed", Knutson said. Getting too little sleep is also known to have negative health effects, but the new study found little difference between the self-reported sleep of morning people and that of evening people, the researchers said. Zeitzer, who was not involved in this study, said that "the findings for the mortality actually weren't as robust as I would have hoped". Earlier studies have already found higher rates of metabolic problems and cardiovascular diseases in people who are active at night. Make work shifts match peoples' chronotypes.

But don't worry if you're a night owl with a job that requires you to rise early.

Most people can change their chronotype to at least some extent, especially if they are careful about light exposure, otherwise we'd never be able to adjust to a new time zone. This was in comparison with the people identifying as "definite morning types". "Part of it you don't have any control over, and part of it you might".

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