Regularly staying up late could be deadly, study finds

Grant Boone
April 14, 2018

Participants in the initiative, which took place from 2006 to 2010, defined themselves as either a "morning person" or "evening person".

Genetics and environment play approximately equal roles in whether we are a morning or a night type, or somewhere in between, the authors have previously reported.

In future studies, the researchers want to test an intervention with owls to get them to shift their body clocks to adapt to an earlier schedule. "And then, of course, the reverse is true for night owls".

But what if being a night person carried certain health risks?

The study is published today (April 12) in the journal Chronobiology International.

Because of this, researchers surmise that a change in the educational setting whereby the biological clocks of the students are considered could prove beneficial to both individual and society. The big question is whether numerous negative health effects associated with night owl behavior are simply due to the fact that the world is more set up for morning types, and those night behaviors simply clash with social realities and work shifts.

Those who tend to stay up late and sleep in well past sunrise are at increased risk of early death, a new study from the United Kingdom suggests.

The study tracked 433,268 subjects for six-and-a-half years.

The research involved almost 500,000 people, aged between 38 and 73, and found that around 9pc considered themselves evening people, while 27pc identified as morning types.

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Asking people about their chronotype is a great way of assessing a person's body clock, with a very strong correlation to the major questionnaire or quiz researchers use to tell what a person's body clock is. At the end of this period, the researchers compared the mortality rates of the morning and evening types of people.

"This first report of increased mortality in evening types is consistent with previous reports of increased levels of cardiometabolic risk factors in this group", the study reads.

The study found that night owls have higher rates of diabetes, mental problems and neurobiological conditions. The researchers could have explored what time people went to bed.

Knutson and the team suggest several tips for night owls that could help optimize their health, including regimented bed times, better awareness of negative nighttime lifestyle behaviors (such as late-night eating), and trying to get exposure to as much morning and daylight as possible. However, the researchers think this study is an early indication that it might.

Although most people are exposed to artificial light, night owls are naturally more exposed to it as a result of their active nocturnal activities.

It is thought that chronotype - the medical term used to describe our preferences for morning or evening - are around 20-50 percent determined by our genes.

There could be many reasons. "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", he said. That's been shown in the USA and also recently demonstrated in a new study out of Singapore.

Body rhythms affect health in other ways, too.

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