Party people and other night owls have more chance of dying younger than early risers, according to a new study.
People who naturally state up late had a 10% chance of dying within the six-and-a-half-year research period, compared to those that got up early in the morning.
The study, by the University of Surrey in the UK and Northwestern University in the US, found the lives of millions of natural night owls were impacted by trying to force them to live to a 9 am to 5pm schedule.
The society norm caused some people immense stress that could shorten lives, claims the research.
“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.
Synchrony with the sun
“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.”
Researchers scrutinised the lifestyles of nearly 500,000 people aged between 38 and 73 to compile their report.
Around 9% described themselves as night owls, while 27% considered themselves early risers.
The results suggest 5.8 million people live a life that is out of synch with their body clocks and environment – and as a result could face an early death.
“Night owls trying to live in a morning lark world may have health consequences for their bodies,” said co-lead author Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicinebased in Chicago.
“It could be that people who are up late have an internal biological clock that doesn’t match their external environment,” said Dr Knutson.
“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 behaviours related to being up late in the dark by yourself.”
A future study will examine ways night owls can reset their body clocks to improve their health and sleep patterns.