A new study carried out by the scientists from the Northwestern Medicine and the University of Surrey in the UK have found those night owls are at higher risk of dying than compared to early risers (larks). This is a significant study as it is the first case to show the correlation between mortality and sleep cycles. Much of the earlier research has been focussed on the study of sleep deprivation or sleeping late in the night on health. Earlier studies have shown that late night sleep leads to metabolic disorders and heart diseases.
The researchers studied 5,00,000 people in the UK and found that about 50000 people have a higher risk of death. The death risk was 10% higher in night owls when compared to their early risers in six and a half years period. In the study, the researchers tried to find the link between the natural inclination of patients to mornings or evenings to their mortality risk. The age of the participants ranged between 18 to 73 years. They asked a total of 4,33,000 participants whether they are definite morning type or moderate morning type or moderate evening type or definite evening type. They accordingly tracked the deaths of these participants for six and a half years. Apart from the mortality risks the researchers also took in to account various health risks of the participants. They found those night owls in addition to high mortality risk also suffered diabetes
However, the genetic and environmental factors seem to decide whether you are a night owl or an early riser. But it is not that tough for a night owl to convert into an early riser. However, making lifestyle changes reduces the mortality risk. They include following a definite sleep time, avoiding the exposure of blue light that is emitted from smartphones and laptops, being exposed to early sunlight etc. The study also found that it is particularly difficult for night owls to earlier schedule as compared to the morning risers. Kristen Knutson, associate professor of Neurology at Northwestern University opined that the companies must take necessary steps to ensure to plan flexible shifts for night owls accordingly. Future research will involve studying the blood pressure profile and overall health if night owls shift their body clock to the earlier schedule.
The Research is published in the journal Chronobiology International