Night Owls Beware: Late Risers Have Increased Risk Of Early Death


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

"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. In order to evaluate natural circadian rhythm, otherwise known as their chronotype, participants were asked to identify as "definitely a morning person", "more a morning person than evening person", "more an evening than a morning person" or "definitely an evening person". As a result, the mismatch between their body clock and their external world impacts their health in the long run, particularly if they have irregular schedule.

Being a night owl was associated with psychological stress, eating at the wrong time, lack of exercise, lack of sleep, and drug or alcohol use.

Evening people were at greater risk for certain health conditions, including diabetes, psychological disorders, gastrointestinal disorders, neurological disorders and respiratory conditions, the study found.

"Part of it you don't have any control over", she said, "part of it you might".

Dr Knutson said that one way night owls could help themselves was to ensure they are exposed to light early in the morning, but not at night.

The researchers said that genetics and environment contribute to a person being a morning or a night person, which means night owls can work their way to becoming morning larks.

"You're not doomed", Knutson said.

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"If you can recognise these (types) are, in part, genetically determined and not just a character flaw, jobs and work hours could have more flexibility for owls", Knutson said.

Although the reasons for their increased mortality remain unclear, she said, "Night owls should know that there may be some health consequences".

'They shouldn't be forced to get up for an 8am shift.

Professor von Schantz said pushing the clocks forward in countries that adopt daylight saving time - such as British Summer Time - has negative health effects.

It's unclear why night owls are more likely to die than the early risers in this period - and the study only established a correlation between the two, not cause and effect. "And we have to remember that even a small additional risk is multiplied by more than 1.3 billion people who experience this shift every year". Surrey University researchers followed 433,000 Brits for 6½ years. "I think we need to seriously consider whether the suggested benefits outweigh these risks".

People who go to bed late are more at risk of premature death than those who turn in early, new research has shown.

The study's co-authors Malcolm van Schantz of the University of Surrey and Kristen Knutson of the Northwestern University in Chicago, gathered information from people aged between 38-73 from a public database.