news, night owls.
types have a 10 percent higher risk of dying than those up and
at ‘em in the morning, according to a new study from
Northwestern Medicine and the United Kingdom’s University of
is the first study, to our knowledge, that was able to look at
mortality risk," said Kristen Knutson, an associate
professor of neurology and sleep researcher at Northwestern.
owls have a harder time switching to daylight saving time and
are more likely to suffer from diabetes and psychological and
neurological disorders, she said.
surveyed 433,268 participants, ages 38 to 73, in the U.K.,
asking whether they considered themselves a "definite
morning type," "moderate morning type,"
"moderate evening type" or "definite evening
type." Then researchers tracked deaths within the sample.
study, published April 12 in the Chronobiology International
journal, found that the 50,000 people who identified as
definite night owls were more likely to die in the 6 1/2 years
researchers followed them.
really important to get the message out to the night owls that
there might be health consequences, and they should make an
effort to be vigilant," Knutson said.
said the problem isn’t necessarily what the study calls
"increased eveningness," but living in a society
with schedules that don’t welcome this. For example, being
forced to get up earlier than your body clock prefers,
"and then going back to night owl times on your days off
or weekend," she said. "This jumping around the
clock and the mismatch chronically is what really could lead
to health problems."
suggests limiting evening activities and going to bed earlier,
I emphasize gradually because you can’t suddenly go to bed
three hours earlier," she said.
noted results are based on a single survey question, so
researchers do not know exactly when participants went to
sleep or how often sleep schedules were jumping around.
co-author Malcolm von Schantz, a University of Surrey
professor who also researches sleep and circadian rhythms,
note the increased likelihood of death could be the result of
many factors, including behaviors that can potentially
accompany late nights — eating at irregular times, not
exercising or sleeping enough, or using drugs and alcohol.
could include just having a less healthy lifestyle because
they’re up at night," Knutson said.
future research might include testing how well it works to try
to get night owls to become larks, those who go to bed early
and rise with the sun.