Night Owls are at Higher Risk of Earlier Death

Henrietta Brewer
April 12, 2018

"And if their work hours were flexible to reflect their biological clock preference and allow the night owls to have a later work schedule, that would be preferable for them and potentially better for their health and their productivity if they're working at the time that's best for them". They asked 433,268 participants, age 38 to 73 years, if they are a "definite morning type" a "moderate morning type" a "moderate evening type" or a "definite evening type".

Scientists who studied a population of almost half a million Britons found that over a six-year period, night owls had a ten per cent greater risk of death than morning larks.

The study will be published April 12 in the journal Chronobiology International.

Researchers from the Northwestern University in Chicago have found "night owls" are more at risk of dying than "larks" who turn in early.

Each increase from "morningness" to "eveningness" was associated with an increased risk for disease.


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

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.

The research duo urged special treatment for night owls.

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

British co-author Professor Malcolm von Schantz, from the University of Surrey, said: "This is a public health issue that can no longer be ignored". They should try to be disciplined about bed-times and get jobs done early in the day rather than leaving them until late, she said. "Mortality risk in evening types may be due to behavioural, psychological and physiological risk factors, many of which may be attributable to chronic misalignment between internal physiological timing and externally imposed timing of work and social activities". Participants in the initiative, which took place from 2006 to 2010, defined themselves as either a "morning person" or "evening person".


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

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.

Dr Knutson added: "You're not doomed". "If you looked in Spain, where people are much later in terms of when they go to work, my guess is that the health consequences are probably less than in the United Kingdom". Part of it you don't have any control over and part you might.

More than a third of Brits identify as night people.


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