Study Says Night Owls Die Sooner Than Early Birds

Better To Be A Lark Than A Night Owl!

Are you a night owl? If yes, it’s a bad habit and now is the right time to switch to becoming a “lark,” people who have a natural preference for going to bed early and rising with the sun. And why?

According to a study by Northwestern Medicine and the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom (UK), people who stay up late, who we call “night owls” have a higher risk of dying sooner. Aside from that, owls had higher rates of diabetes, psychological disorders and neurological disorders.

This key finding was confirmed by co-lead author Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Knutson said, “Night owls trying to live in a morning lark world may have health consequences for their bodies.”

This new study is considered the first of its kind to look at mortality risk of night owls.

A Call For Concern

The key finding of the study has drawn some concern from one professor at the University of Surrey and Knutson herself.

Malcolm von Schantz, a professor of chronobiology said, “This is a public health issue that can no longer be ignored. We should discuss allowing evening types to start and finish work later, where practical. 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 asserted that this habit can be reversed especially with the cooperation of society.

If we can recognize these chronotypes are, in part, genetically determined and not just a character flaw, jobs and work hours could have more flexibility for owls,” Knutson said. “They shouldn’t be forced to get up for an 8 a.m. shift. Make work shifts match peoples’ chronotypes. Some people may be better suited to night shifts.”

man working late
A man working late.

These Might Help Too

It is a bad sign that night owls will have higher mortality rate compared to the “lark.” That is why the author of the study outlined some important tips to switch to becoming a lark.

One way to shift behavior is to become exposed to light early in the morning but not at night, Knutson said. Try to keep a regular bedtime and do not drift to later bedtimes. Be regimented about adopting healthy lifestyle behaviors and recognize the timing of when sleep matters. Do things earlier and be less of an evening person as much as possible.

The Study and Result

Researchers from Northwestern Medicine and the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom (UK) examined the link between an individual’s natural inclination toward mornings or evenings and their risk of mortality.

The researchers asked 433,268 participants, age 38 to 73 years, if they are a “definite morning type” a “moderate morning type” a “moderate evening type” or a “definite evening type.” Deaths in the sample were tracked up to six and half years later.

The researchers found owls have a 10 percent higher risk of dying than larks. In the study sample, 50,000 people were more likely to die in the 6½ -year period sampled.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.