Night Owls Have Increased Risk of Early Death

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June 16, 2023 – People who stay up late have a 9% increased risk of early death, mainly because they are more likely to smoke or drink alcohol, according to a new study.

Researchers found that simply being a night owl isn’t a risk. People who said they are an evening person but who did not drink or smoke had no increased risk of early death.

The study was published Friday in the journal Chronobiology International. Among nearly 24,000 people in Finland who were part of a previous large study evaluating twins, the question was asked: “Try to assess to what extent you are a morning person or an evening person.” 

Nearly 30% identified as “clearly a morning person,” 28% were “to some extent a morning person,” 33% were “to some extent an evening person,” and 10% said they were “clearly an evening person.”

People who preferred the evening tended to be younger, to get less than eight hours of sleep per night, and were more likely to smoke or use alcohol, according to a summary from the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, where lead author Christer Hublin, MD, PhD, works.

The researchers described people with evening preferences as having “eveningness,” and people with morning preferences were described as having “morningness.”

“The increased risk of mortality associated with eveningness would appear to be mainly accounted for by a larger consumption of tobacco and alcohol than in those with morningness,” they wrote.