When it comes to longevity, night owls are in trouble, study warns

13 April, 2018, 02:05 | Author: Cassandra Gardner
  • Night owls

According to a new study, it's diabetes, psychological problems and an increased risk of dying.

Those who tend to stay up late and sleep in well past sunrise are at increased risk of early death, a new study from the United Kingdom suggests.

Out of the 433,268 people that answered the chronotype question and provided sufficient health data, 27% were definite morning types, 35% moderate morning types, 28% moderate evening types, and 9% definite evening types.

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

"This is a public health issue that can no longer be ignored", said Malcolm von Schantz, a professor of chronobiology at the University of Surrey. According to him, "night owls" should benefit from greater flexibility in the job so that they can start and finish their work later.

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Study co-author Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University, said this likely happens because "night owls trying to live in a morning lark world may have health consequences for their bodies".

Night owls were more likely to suffer from psychological disorders, diabetes and stomach and breathing troubles.

Even more, passing towards the daylight saving time coincides with a higher incidence of heart attacks and for the late risers is more hard to adapt to the change, say the researchers.

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

The researchers' next project is to see if night owls are able to shift their body clocks to adapt to an earlier schedule - to see if there are improvements in blood pressure and overall heatlh. "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".

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The findings, based on a study of almost half a million participants, showed that night owls suffer from more diseases and disorders than morning larks: They have a 10%higher risk of dying than larks.

"Whether or not you're a night owl is partly determined by your genes, which obviously you can't change, but it's not entirely a given", Knutson said.

Most researchers agree that a large part of what defines your chronotype is genetic - both whether you are more of a morning person or night person and how much you have the ability to shift that "preference". As part of the Biobank research, people were asked to either identify as a morning or evening person from four options.

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

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