Night owls’ health may benefit from ‘simple’ routine adjustments

People who go to bed late and wake up late can often experience health problems because their body clock does not align with the regular rhythms of modern society. However, a new study suggests that a few easy routine adjustments could go a long way for night owls.
bearded man asleep in bed

A few easy adjustments could help night owls boost their productivity and lower their health risks.

Research from earlier this year found that night owls — people who naturally keep late hours — experience an effect similar to jet lag on a daily basis.

This occurs, at least in part, because they have to meet the requirements of a world that we created for “morning people,” in which 9 to 5 jobs are standard, and there is the expectation that people should primarily work in the mornings.

Other studies have suggested that night owls have a higher risk than morning people of diabetes and that they are also more likely to develop heart disease.

However, a team of researchers from the Universities of Birmingham and Surrey in the United Kingdom and Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, argues that by making just a few simple lifestyle adjustments, night owls might be able to minimize their health risks.

For their study, the researchers recruited 22 healthy volunteers with night owl habits. They had an average bedtime of 2.30 a.m. and an average wake-up time of 10.15 a.m.

“Our research findings highlight the ability of a simple nonpharmacological intervention to phase advance ‘night owls,’ reduce negative elements of mental health and sleepiness, as well as manipulate peak performance times in the real world,” says lead researcher Elise Facer-Childs, Ph.D.

The team presents the study’s findings in a dedicated paper that appears in the journal Sleep Medicine.


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