Medicine

'Night owls' tend to die sooner than 'morning larks'

'Night owls' tend to die sooner than 'morning larks'

Definitive night owls had nearly double the risk of suffering from psychological disorders, about a 30% increased risk for diabetes, a 25% increased risk for neurological conditions, 23% increased risk for gastrointestinal disorders, and a 22% increased risk for respiratory disorders.

The researchers tracked 500,000 British people over six years, and corrected their figures for common problems suffered by night owls such as heart disease.

Night owls were also more likely to have diabetes, neurological disorders, psychological disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and respiratory disorders, according to Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine and a leading author of the study. "Part of it you dont have any control over and part of it you might".

A 2014 study also showed that those who stay up late had less white matter in certain areas of the brain associated with depression.

This new study is one of the most extensive to see how much of a role chronotype has on risk for death and other health conditions. 35 percent as "more a morning person than an evening person", 28 percent as "more an evening than morning person" and 9 percent as "definitely an evening person".

However, there are some things society can change to take some of the pressure off night owls.

Previous studies in this field have focused on the higher rates of metabolic dysfunction and cardiovascular disease, but this is the first to look at mortality risk.

When the sun goes down millions of people rev up, becoming energized and productive late into the evening, but burning the midnight oil could mean you'll burn out for good much sooner than early risers.

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A survey of more than 430,000 people in Britain found that "night owls" had a 10 per cent higher risk of dying in the 61/2-year study period than "larks".

"The mismatch between their internal biological clock and their behavior and environment is problematic, especially in the long run", Knutson said.

They compared the different types, adjusting for a range of factors, including the study participants' age, sleep duration and existing health problems.

"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. "That not only makes it hard to fall asleep; it's also a signal to your clock to start being later again".

More than a third of Brits identify as night people.

The researchers say that employers should adapt work schedules to fit the body clocks of people who struggle to get up in the morning.

"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 added.

'It could be psychological stress, eating at the wrong time for their body, not exercising enough, not sleeping enough, being awake at night by yourself, maybe drug or alcohol use.


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