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Night Owls Get Laid To Rest Sooner

1 year ago

2706  0
Posted on Apr 17, 2018, 1 p.m.

Night owls have 10% higher risk of premature death than early birds, and also suffer from more disorders and diseases according to researchers from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Surrey UK, as published in Chronobiology International.


Close to half a million participants were involved in the study showing the 10% increased chance of dying early. 50,000 people in the study sample were more likely to die in the 6.5 year period sampled. Researchers examined links between individuals natural incline towards days or evenings and the risk of mortality. 433,268 participants from the ages of 38-73 were asked if they were a definite evening type; moderate evening type; definite morning type, or a moderate morning type. Deaths in these samples were tracked for a 6.5 year time frame.


Night owls that try to live in a early bird world can have health consequences for their bodies. Prior studies focused on higher rates of metabolic dysfunction and cardiovascular disease, this was the first looks into mortality risks. Adjustments were made for expected health problems among night owls and it was still found at a 10% increased risk of death. It was also found that owl types had higher rates of neurological and psychological disorders, as well as diabetes.


Researchers say that the matter is a public health issue which should not be ignored any longer, saying that employers should allow more flexibility in schedules for start times to finish later for owls where practical; and more research on how owl types can cope with higher efforts to keep body clocks in synchrony with the sun time must be done.


Environment and genetics can play equal roles in whether an individual is an early bird, a night owl, or somewhere in between. One way to shift behavior is to ensure that you are exposed to light during the day but not at night, while trying to maintain a regular bedtime. Being regimented on adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors and recognizing timing of when one sleeps matters, plan to do things earlier in the day and be less of an evening person as possible. In the future the team hopes to test interventions on owls to get them to shift body clocks to adapt an early bird schedule.


It is known that time change is much more difficult for night owls than early birds. There are reports of higher heart attack incidence following summer time switch. Even a small additional risk is multiplied by over 1.3 billion individuals who experience the year switch. Researchers suggest it’s time to consider whether suggested benefits outweigh these risks.



Materials provided by Northwestern University.

 Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

Kristen L. Knutson, Malcolm von Schantz. Associations between chronotype, morbidity and mortality in the UK Biobank cohort. Chronobiology International, 2018; 1 DOI: 10.1080/07420528.2018.1454458

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