Study: ‘Night owls’ have increased risk of death over morning people

People who described themselves as partial to the later hours had a 10% higher risk of passing away than those who prefer the morning. The study was reportedly the “first” one finding that night people are more likely to be dealt this fate.

Research recently published in the journal Chronobiology International came to some pretty grave conclusions for those of us who would rather stay up late at night than get up early.

It found that people who described themselves as partial to the later hours had a 10% higher risk of passing away than those who prefer mornings. The study was reportedly the “first” one finding that night people are more likely to be dealt this fate.

Here’s why night owls should be careful

Participants labeled themselves as a “definite morning type,” a “moderate morning type,” a “moderate evening type,” a “definite evening type” or said they weren’t sure how they’d characterize themselves.

Researchers analyzed more than 430,000 adults in the UK Biobank Study (ages 38-73) over a period of six and a half years and found that those with a preference for the nighttime had a greater chance of contracting certain “diseases or disorders,” as well as death.

Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, commented on the research in a statement:

“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 … They shouldn’t be forced to get up for an 8 a.m. shift. Make work shifts match peoples’ chronotypes. Some people may be better suited to night shifts.”

Knutson also cautioned that “night people” attempting to function “in a morning lark world” could face negative impacts on their health:

The study also notes that the “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. These findings suggest the need for researching possible interventions aimed at either modifying circadian rhythms in individuals or at allowing evening types greater working hour flexibility.”

While the next stage of the research reportedly seeks results on what happens when night people try to get “their body clocks to adapt to an earlier schedule,” it’s clear that being a night person comes with a price tag.

With this in mind, here are four ways night owls can try and help themselves:

Regularly get enough sleep

If you never get enough rest at night,  you’ll always be tired. Period. So clearly, this can also mess up your work performance.

“Lack of sleep exacts a toll on perception and judgment. In the workplace, its effects can be seen in reduced efficiency and productivity, errors, and accidents. Sometimes the effects can even be deadly, as in the case of drowsy driving fatalities,” the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School reports.

So make a habit of doing whatever you need to do to wind down for the night early and often, like parting ways with your phone.

Make your phone alarm ringtone your favorite song

This could really help you get out of bed and get ready to take on the day.

But depending on what you enjoy listening to and how you’re feeling when you wake up, you’ll want to pick something that will help put you in the best possible mood sat such an early time. It might help take your mind off of all the work you have to do when you get to the office.

Here’s a tip: just remember to check your alarm(s) settings — you probably don’t want to let your coworkers in on what the music you use to get going when you’re peeling your eyes open first thing.

Don’t forget to hydrate

One step that Hal Elrod, entrepreneur and author of The Miracle Morning, writes about in Entrepreneur is to “drink a full glass of water.”

“This is crucial. After six or eight hours without water, you may be mildly dehydrated, which can cause fatigue. Often when people feel tired what they really need is more water, not more sleep.

When you drink a glass of water and hydrate yourself, your wakeup motivation level goes from a 3 or a 4 to a 5 or 6,” he writes.

Listen to your favorite a podcast as you get ready

Hearing the voices of podcast hosts you’ve enjoyed listening to for so long is sure to wake you up— even if you’d rather stay under the covers. (Ok, let’s be honest: when do you ever want to get out of bed?)

Whether you’re listening to a podcast about current events, pop culture or an audiobook, picking up where you left off can bring on waves of familiarity when you’re trying to get ready.

Jane Burnett|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at jburnett@theladders.com.