'Night owls' at greater risk of dying sooner


New research by the University of Surrey and Northwestern University in the United States found that people who naturally stay up late were 10pc more likely to die within the six-and-a-half-year study period compared to those who preferred the morning.

To reach their findings, researchers examined data from 433,268 people who took part in an earlier British study that examined the risk factors for different diseases in people aged 37 to 73. As part of the study, they were asked to place themselves into one of four categories - definite morning or evening types, or moderate morning or evening types.

Deaths in the group - just over 10 500 in total - were documented for six-and-a-half years.

Night owls have been found to be more likely to develop cardiovascular disease, diabetes, obesity, and other complications, but this new study is the first of its kind to link a late-night lifestyle to an overall higher risk of earlier death.

Those who slept later at night are more likely to have diabetes, neurological disorders, psychological disorders, gastrointestinal disorders and respiratory disorders, says Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine and a lead author on the study.

"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". A 2017 study claims those tendencies could be linked to your genes.

The study suggests that those who drag themselves out of bed may be at higher risk of poor health and are more likely to die younger than those who rise and set with the sun.

Genetics and the environment played roughly equal roles in determining whether you are a night or morning person, said the scientists.

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The new study was published April 12 in the journal Chronobiology International.

It might be that being up late gives people more opportunity to engage in less healthy behaviors, such as drinking, smoking, snacking or taking drugs, Knutson said.

The risk of death was not increased for those who identified as "more a morning person" or "more an evening person" compared with the morning larks, according to the report.

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. "It's not going work", Knutson said".

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

"If we can recognize these chronotypes are‚ in part‚ genetically determined and not just a character flaw‚ jobs and work hours could have more flexibility for owls‚" she said.

Knutson said night owls could improve their chances of living longer by ensuring their were exposed to light early in the morning but not at night.

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