Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Late night sleepers may die sooner, but not from a lack of sleep

This study suggests that rather than being directly tied to chronotype, a higher risk of dying earlier may be related to what it leads to.

There is something worrying about those who tend to stay up late, according to a significant study that lasted 37 years from start to finish. These night owls are more likely to pass away at a younger age, but from diseases brought on by smoking and drinking alcohol than by how late they stay up.

The study’s analysis of 22,976 Finnish adult twins found that 42.9% of them identified as “evening types” or “somewhat evening types.” Our tendency to prefer sleeping or being active at specific times is formally referred to as our chronotype. According to past studies, night owls have a higher chance of dying young and a penchant for dangerous activity. This study suggests that rather than being directly tied to chronotype, a higher risk of dying earlier may be related to what it leads to. Instead, “the increased mortality risk associated with being a clearly ‘evening’ person appears to be mainly explained by a higher consumption of tobacco and alcohol.” This contrasts with others who are obviously “morning” people.

Conduct of the study

After determining the chronotypes for the study participants in 1981, the researchers followed up in 2018, examining death rates found through national registries. The research considered each person’s degree of smoking and alcohol consumption as well as other elements like their education, BMI, and sleeping habits.

8,728 of the individuals had passed away by 2018, the researchers found. People who identified as definite (not “somewhat”) evening types had a 9% higher risk of dying from any cause than those who identified as definite morning types. Nevertheless, non-drinkers in this group of night owls did not have an increased risk of passing away for any reason compared to smokers. The researchers found that smoking and drinking, which can result in diseases associated to alcohol as well as alcohol poisoning, were the causes of the excess deaths.

Although a bad sleep schedule doesn’t necessarily go along with being an evening person, the two frequently do. Poor sleep can lead to a number of mental and physical issues and has been linked in the past to addictions like those to alcohol or cigarettes.

Unlike the former trial that served as the basis for this one, the team failed to find any increase in the risk of cardiovascular-related death. The population sample used has changed, though; in the earlier study, adults from the UK were used, and they were generally in better shape than the average adult from the UK population, whereas in the present study, the cohort’s health was more in line with that of the general population.


Naturally, further investigation will be useful in elucidating this connection, including larger sample sizes and researchers from additional nations. Yet it seems that in addition to our sleeping patterns, there may also be a need to take into account some of the lifestyle choices that are more likely to be made as a result of those sleeping habits.

By Parvathy Sukumaran

Parvathy Sukumaran is a Content Creator and Editor at JustCare Health. She is an Educator and a Language Lecturer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Education and an M.A in English Literature. She is passionate about writing, archaeology, music and cooking.

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