September 30, 2023 2:34 am

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Surprising Study Finds Night Owls at Greater Risk of Early Death Due to Smoking and Drinking Habits

People who tend to stay up late are not more likely to die younger than early risers — as long as they don’t use those longer nights for drinking and smoking, a 37-year-long study suggested on Friday.

Previous research suggested night owls suffer from health issues

A large study conducted in the UK in 2018 revealed that people who preferred staying up late had a ten percent higher risk of dying within a 6.5-year period in comparison to early risers. However, researchers failed to take into account external factors such as alcohol and tobacco consumption, which could have caused these deaths.

New study on the subject

Consequently, researchers in Finland conducted a 37-year-long study in which they studied 24,000 same-sex twins who were asked in 1981 to identify if they were early or late risers. Out of this number, a third classified themselves as somewhat of an evening person while ten percent claimed they were definitely one, with the rest being early risers.

The link between night owls and health

Evening people tended to drink and smoke more and, as the study went on to find, the definite night owls were exposed to a nine percent increased risk of death from all causes over the 37 years, possibly leading to earlier deaths similar to those illustrated by the 2018 study.

“Clearly evening people should critically think about the amount of alcohol and tobacco they are using,” said the study’s lead author Christer Hublin of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health.

Chronotype and mortality

The research showed that interfering factors such as alcohol and tobacco had a big role in early deaths, but, independently, one’s chronotype, or preference, had “little or no” impact on one’s mortality level.

“Independent of other factors, your preference to sleep late has little or no contribution to your mortality,” Hublin added.

Limitations of the study

The study defined participants based on their self-identification as morning or evening people, which could be subjective and inconsistent in comparison to modern methods of measuring chronotype. This study also neglected to account for other substances apart from tobacco and alcohol, such as cocaine, which could cause people to switch from being an early riser to a late-night aficionado.

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