Researchers from the University of Surrey and Northwestern University looked at the connection between a person being a morning person or night person and their risk of death. The researchers surveyed 433,000 participants, aged 38 to 73. They asked the participants if they were:
1. A definite morning type
2. A moderate morning type
3. A moderate evening type
4. A definite evening type
The researchers were followed for the duration of the study, tracking the number of deaths over the 6 and a half year period.
The study, which looked at over 500,000 people, found that night owls have a 10 percent higher chance of dying than morning people (larks). In the study, this translated to nearly 50,000 people who were at higher risk of death over the 6-year study period.
" This is a public health issue that can no longer be ignored ," said Malcolm von Schantz, a professor of chronobiology at the University of Surrey. "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."
"It could be that people who are up late have an internal biological clock that doesn't match their external environment," Knutson said. "It could be psychological stress, eating at the wrong time for their body, not exercising enough, not sleeping enough, being awake at night by yourself, maybe drug or alcohol use. There are a whole variety of unhealthy behaviors related to being up late in the dark by yourself."
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