Late Risers May Die Sooner

Late Risers May Die Sooner

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. The study concluded that late risers are at risk of prematurely dying, irrespective of their health conditions.

Previous studies in this field have focused on the higher rates of metabolic dysfunction and cardiovascular disease, but this is the first to look at mortality risk. 35 percent as "more a morning person than an evening person", 28 percent as "more an evening than morning person" and 9 percent as "definitely an evening person".

It's not a lack of sleep - both groups got about the same amount, Knutson and her colleague Malcolm von Schantz, a professor of chronobiology at the University of Surrey, reported in the journal Chronobiology International.

He suggested a few ways society could help night owls.

Dr Kristen Knutson, a member of the team from Northwestern University in Chicago, US, said: "Night owls trying to live in a morning lark world may have health consequences for their bodies".

In addition to overall mortality, being a night owl was associated with a number of health problems such as psychological, neurological, gastrointestinal and respiratory disorders.

The scientists adjusted for the expected health problems in owls and still found the 10 percent higher risk of death. "And we have to remember that even a small additional risk is multiplied by more than 1.3 billion people who experience this shift every year".

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Knutson's study of almost a half million people found night owl habits foul up our internal clock. After taking into account certain factors like age, sex, smoking status, body mass index, and ethnicity, the researchers found that 10% of the people who identified as "definite evening types" had a higher risk of early death.

"Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep - all of these things are important, and maybe particularly so for night owls".

"The next thing is what sort of intervention can we develop and test to see can we improve the health and well-being of people who are night owls", Knutson said.

"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.

Most researchers agree that a large part of what defines your chronotype is genetic - both whether you are more of a morning person or night person and how much you have the ability to shift that "preference". Knutson said that "you're not doomed".

The researchers say that employers should adapt work schedules to fit the body clocks of people who struggle to get up in the morning. They sorted people by whether they were definite morning types (aka "morning larks"), definite evening types, moderate morning types or moderate evening types.

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