Published: Fri, April 13, 2018
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Night owls and early death rates

Night owls and early death rates

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

Researchers pulled data from the massive U.K. Biobank study, that between 2006 and 2010 looked at risk factors of major diseases for adults between the ages of 37 and 73.

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" (nine percent).

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 study co-author Malcolm von Schantz, a professor of chronobiology at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom. Everything from work time to meal time occurs at a time that doesn't feel right for night owls, a state that researchers call "social jetlag".

According to Kirsten Knutson, the leading author of the study, the idea is that these night owls have problems adapting to the external world because their internal clock says otherwise.

Also, researchers argued that, usually, late risers are having harmful habits, such as sedentary lifestyle or unhealthy diets.


Night owls run a 10% higher risk of developing health problems such as diabetes, psychological abnormalities and an increased possibility of dying. 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.

Jamie Zeitzer, an associate psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford who was not involved with the study, told CNN that these results are "just one piece of the puzzle", Zeitzer told the outlet that she hoped the findings would have been more robust, and asked the question "So, are people going to be at their correct time?"

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. "Some people may be better suited to night shifts". Knutson said that "you're not doomed".

"Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep - all of these things are important, and maybe particularly so for night owls".

"If we can recognize these chronotypes are‚ in part‚ genetically determined and not just a character flaw‚ jobs and work hours could have more flexibility for owls‚" she said. But overall, the tendency to feel more alert and alive in the morning or evening remains, no matter how much people try to change it.

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.

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