Night owls die young in a world scheduled for early birds

A person pressing snooze on their alarm clock

About 433,268 people participated in this study and over the course of the six and a half years, 10.000 of them died. According to a new study, it's diabetes, psychological problems and an increased risk of dying.

This is an incredibly large group of people to study and this is the first time a population has been studied with the intention of assessing how chronotype affects mortality from the start. 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". But there was a notable difference between the two extremes, said Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Also, researchers argued that, usually, late risers are having harmful habits, such as sedentary lifestyle or unhealthy diets. 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. "And we need more research about how we can help evening types cope with the higher effort of keeping their body clock in synchrony with sun time".

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 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.

It was the 9 percent of people who said they were "definite" evening types who had the 10 percent increase risk of dying from something over the next six or so years.

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"I think the problem arises because a night owl is trying to live in a morning lark world", Knutson said. Earlier studies have already found higher rates of metabolic problems and cardiovascular diseases in people who are active at night.

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

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.

"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", she said.

While pointing to an increased mortality rate for those who stay up late and struggle in the morning, researchers did not dive deep into the reasons for increased early death risks. But overall, the tendency to feel more alert and alive in the morning or evening remains, no matter how much people try to change it.

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