According to a new study, which the journal Chronobiology International recently published, this might bring with it diabetes, psychological issues and most importantly, an increased risk of early death. But there was a notable difference between the two extremes, said Kristen Knutson, associate professor of neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.
Some bad news for those who like to stay up late. "And we have to remember that even a small additional risk is multiplied by more than 1.3 billion people who experience this shift every year".
Out of the 433,268 people that answered the chronotype question and provided sufficient health data, 27% were definite morning types, 35% moderate morning types, 28% moderate evening types, and 9% definite evening types.
However, there are some things society can change to take some of the pressure off night owls.
This is an incredibly large group of people to study and this is the first time a population has been studied with the intention of assessing how chronotype affects mortality from the start. "Some people may be better suited to night shifts", Knutson added. Many of these effects may be attributable to a misalignment between a person's internal clock, or circadian rhythm, and the socially imposed timing of work and other activities, the researchers said.
Researchers tracked nearly half a million adults in the United Kingdom over six and a half years, and found that the people who identified as "definite evening types" at the start of the study had a 10% higher chance of all-cause mortality compared with those who said they were "definite morning types", the BBC reports. Though the study didn't examine the cause of this correlation, researchers suspect the problem doesn't actually have to do with sleeping in, specifically.
Professor Knutson said: '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. "That not only makes it hard to fall asleep; it's also a signal to your clock to start being later again".
In future studies, the researchers want to test an intervention with owls to get them to shift their body clocks to adapt to an earlier schedule. This was in comparison with the people identifying as "definite morning types".
"It's limited because of that", he said.
"If the body is expecting you to do something at a certain time like sleep or eat and you're doing it at the quote "wrong time" then your body's physiology may not be working as well", she explains.
Confirmed night owls must make sure to eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly, she said. As a result, the mismatch between their body clock and their external world impacts their health in the long run, particularly if they have an irregular schedule.