Night owls 'more likely to die early'

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"You can't start drifting later on weekends or vacations because you'll be back into night owl habits", she warns.

Scientists working on data from the earlier study - called the UK Biobank - checked on the participants six-and-a-half years later and found that 10,000 of them had died.

The study will be published April 12 in the journal Chronobiology International.

After controlling for age and sex, smoking, body mass index, sleep duration and other variables, they found that compared with "definite morning" types, "definite evening" types had a 10 percent increased risk of dying from any cause.

For the study, the researchers examined the link between an individual's natural inclination toward mornings or evenings and their risk of mortality. Night owls were almost twice as likely as early risers to have a psychological disorder and 30 percent more likely to have diabetes.

'They shouldn't be forced to get up for an 8am shift.

"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. "There are a whole variety of unhealthy behaviours related to being up late in the dark by yourself", she added.

The researchers said that genetics and environment contribute to a person being a morning or a night person, which means night owls can work their way to becoming morning larks.

Most researchers agree that a large part of what defines your chronotype is genetic - both whether you are more of a morning person or night person and how much you have the ability to shift that "preference". "Mortality risk in evening types may be due to behavioural, psychological and physiological risk factors, many of which may be attributable to chronic misalignment between internal physiological timing and externally imposed timing of work and social activities". 35 percent as "more a morning person than an evening person", 28 percent as "more an evening than morning person" and 9 percent as "definitely an evening person".

"If you looked in Spain, where people are much later in terms of when they go to work", he told CNN, "my guess is that the health consequences are probably less than in the United Kingdom". "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".

"What we think might be happening is, there's a problem for the night owl who's trying to live in the morning lark world", Knutson said.

"Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep - all of these things are important, and maybe particularly so for night owls". This was in comparison with the people identifying as "definite morning types".

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