Night owls more likely to die younger than early birds

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The study also looked into the circadian rhythm of the individual and they were asked to identify themselves in four categories: definitely an evening person, more of an evening person than a morning person, more of a morning person than an evening person, and definitely a morning person. The study concluded that late risers are at risk of prematurely dying, irrespective of their health conditions.

The risk of death was not increased for those who identified as "more a morning person" or "more an evening person" compared with the morning larks, according to the report. "But this is really the first study to look at mortality".

The study also found that night owls have a higher risk for a variety of physical and mental ailments.

"This is a public health issue that can no longer be ignored", said study co-author Malcolm van Schantz of the University of Surrey - and argued that "night types" should be allowed to start and finish work later in the day. But there was a notable difference between the two extremes, said Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Night owls were also seen to have higher rates of diabetes and psychological or neurological disorders.

Even more, passing towards the daylight saving time coincides with a higher incidence of heart attacks and for the late risers is more hard to adapt to the change, say the researchers.

Night owls run a 10% higher risk of developing health problems such as diabetes, psychological abnormalities and an increased possibility of dying.

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

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Deaths in the group - just over 10 500 in total - were documented for six-and-a-half years.

Some people naturally gravitate to staying up late, and while genetics do play a major role in establishing your body clock, some research is suggesting later bedtimes could be bad for your health.

Scientists who studied a population of almost half a million Britons found that over a six-year period, night owls had a ten per cent greater risk of death than morning larks.

"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. This means that those that went to bed later at night were still reporting the same overall amount of sleep as those going to bed early.

But the study should still be a wake-up call for night owls, who may want to take extra efforts to maintain a healthy lifestyle, she said.

Studies indicate that switches to and from daylight savings time can raise the immediate risk of death over the following days, and others show the health risks of shift work.

Once you've managed to gradually advance your bedtime, you must keep to a regular sleeping schedule and avoid drifting back into your night owl habits, Knutson said.