In a World Designed for Morning People, Night Owls May Die Earlier

A person pressing snooze on their alarm clock

A Northwestern University study found that those who stay up late but struggle to drag themselves out of bed in the morning are more at risk of dying sooner than early risers.

The study says that night owls are about twice as likely to develop a psych disorder, 30 percent more likely to have diabetes, 23 percent higher risk of respiratory diseases and 22 percent higher for gastrointestinal diseases. In the study sample, 50,000 people were more likely to die in the 6½ -year period sampled.

"Night owls trying to live in a morning-lark world may (suffer) health consequences", said fellow author Kristen Knutson of the Northwestern University in Chicago. Even then, they still faced a 10 percent higher mortality rate. The study published Thursday in the journal Chronobiology instead cites "circadian misalignment", per Live Science.

Study co-author Malcolm van Schantz of the University of Surrey said it is a public issue that could no longer be ignored.

'And we need more research about how we can help evening types cope with the higher effort of keeping their body clock in synchrony with sun time. "There are a whole variety of unhealthy behaviors related to being up late in the dark by yourself".

But night owls still had a 10 per cent higher risk of death after the effects of health were adjusted for.

"You're not doomed", Knutson said.

Try to get your to-do list checked off early each day to help you get to bed on time.

Although, we don't know for certain that being an evening person increases your risk of ill health.


They're investigating whether bright light therapy in the morning, or melatonin in the evening, might be able to shift our chronotype, possibly improving health outcomes.

"If you looked in Spain, where people are much later in terms of when they go to work", he told CNN, "my guess is that the health consequences are probably less than in the United Kingdom".

Those behind the research said society needed to wake up to the difficulties faced by night owls and called on employers to be more flexible towards staff who suffer when forced to clock in early.

Another factor that makes things rough on night owls is Daylight Saving Time, von Schantz said in the release.

The switch to daylight savings or summer time is already known to be much more hard for evening types than for morning types.

'I think we need to seriously consider whether the suggested benefits outweigh these risks'.

"This first report of increased mortality in evening types is consistent with previous reports of increased levels of cardiometabolic risk factors in this group", the study reads.

Researchers asked British participants aged 38-73 to put themselves into one of four categories: "definitely a morning person", "more a morning person than evening person", "more an evening than a morning person" or "definitely an evening person".

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