Night owls more at risk of early death
NOCTURNAL “night owls” are more at risk of dying than “larks” who turn in early and leap out of bed when the sun rises, new research has shown.
Scientists who studied a population of nearly half a million Britons found over a six-year period, those who stay up late but struggle to drag themselves out of bed in the morning had a 10% greater risk of death than early risers.
The difference held true even after adjusting for expected health problems in owls, such as metabolic dysfunction and heart disease.
Society should wake up to the real difficulties faced by night owls, said the researchers. They called on employers to be more flexible towards staff who suffer when forced to clock in early.
Dr Kristen Knutson, from Northwestern University in Chicago, US, said: “Night owls trying to live in a morning lark world may have health consequences for their bodies.
“They shouldn’t be forced to get up for an 8am shift. Make work shifts match people’s chronotypes. Some people may be better suited to night shifts.”
The study found higher rates of diabetes, mental disorders and neurological conditions among night owls. Larks are better able to adjust their body clocks to the light and dark rhythms of the rising and setting sun.