There have been recent studies conducted that suggest night owls are at a higher risk of death. While these studies are just at the beginning stages, they certainly raise an interesting question: Is there any truth to these claims?
What is a Night Owl?
A night owl, evening person or simply owl, is a person who tends to stay up until late at night. … The opposite of a night owl is an early bird – a lark as opposed to an owl – which is someone who tends to begin sleeping at a time that is considered early and also wakes early.
Studies About Night Owls
The studies have claimed that night owls have a higher risk of developing many diseases and disorders. At the top of this list is psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Other disorders that grace the list are:
Yes, the studies do say that the chance of death is increased by 10% in those who identify as night owls. Don’t take those facts at face value because it’s just a number. Although this was determined through research and trials, the researchers were unable to identify what causes this increased risk. Therefore, more research will need to be done to prove the accuracy of the claim.
Biological Clock and External Clock
There are some good theories as to why night owls are at higher risk for physical and mental disorders. The best theory is the connection between the biological clock and the external clocks. Let’s dive into this a little bit more because it actually makes sense.
The research suggests that a night owl has a different biological clock. That means morning is evening and night is morning. This is just how they work. They are not night owls by choice, but rather because the internal clock is malfunctioned for some reason. Although the reason isn’t known, it’s not necessary to know. The external clock that says morning is 6AM is working against the night owl. This causes a misalignment between the two. Without even knowing, the night owl might be stressed about not aligning with the external clocks.
This is a where the evidence is already proven. We all know that stress reduces our quality of life and our life expectancy. Stress puts a lot of strain on the body and the mind. The internal exhaustion makes it hard to fight off a simple viral infection. Our bodies couldn’t handle fighting a serious disorder if we were feeling stressed. Because of this, it makes sense that stress can increase the chance of death.
But why would a night owl be stressed about their clock? Why not just go with it?
Unfortunately, we don’t live in a world that’s supportive of the night owl. It can be hard to find employment that works with their schedule. Friends and family don’t want to socialize in the middle of the night. Grocery stores and banks are rarely open 24 hours. This means that the night owl still has to be active during the day to run errands. If that’s not stressful enough, this can lead to exhaustion. This exhaustion can greatly amplify the feelings of stress. Not to mention, the amount of strain it puts on the body of the night owl.
Researchers also want to note the importance of the possibility of feelings of isolation. Night owls may feel isolated and lonely as many of their friends or family are not awake to keep them company. Consistent lonely nights may increase the chances of depression and anxiety.
There is a chance the night owl simply prefers to be awake at night, rather than during the day. Some people are like that, especially the more creative individuals. Night can be inspiring, especially given the quiet silence of the city streets. But not everyone is wistfully wandering the streets. Some people are wandering the streets because there’s nothing else to do at this time of night. Some people are just laying in bed staring at the ceiling because they suffer from insomnia.
Try a Different Life Style
Whether you’re a night owl or you know a night owl, it’s important to try and adapt to a different lifestyle. This is never an easy accomplishment, but it will have benefits. We all need our internal clock to align with the external clock in order to stay healthy.
Night owls, beware! It’s time to transform from an owl to a lark. Greet the morning sunshine and the birds outside your window. Wave at people walking down the street because you’re not the only one anymore. Enjoy seeing your friends and family more and getting the chance to run your errands without complication. Don’t worry, we’re going to help you!
Let’s try this new morning routine:
- Introduce a healthier sleeping pattern.
- Practice sleep hygiene and go to bed at the same time every night.
- Avoid too much light as you’re winding down for bed.
- Stay away from your electronics for an hour or so before bedtime.
- Wake up at the same time every morning (and set an alarm).
- Eat a healthy breakfast.
- Go for a short jog around the block.
Exercise and healthy eating are two key elements to a healthier lifestyle. You’ll reduce the risk of developing other disorders and you’ll boost your energy. A smoothie for breakfast filled with vitamins is a great way to feel like you’re ready to face the day. The jog is just a way to feel awake. Many others prefer a simple shower in the morning to wake up. You can try that instead if it works better for you. Just make sure you find a way to sneak exercise into your routine somewhere. It’s important, after all.
As you’re making healthier changes to your lifestyle, you’ll want to try and practice stress management. Since stress is one of the main causes of anxiety and depression, you want to avoid doing too much of it. There are many techniques for stress reduction:
- Imagery exercises
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Dialectical behavioral therapy
- Good health (outlined above)
Any lifestyle change should be made gradually. You don’t want to shock your body or mind with a drastic change. It can actually have the opposite effect and become worse for you. You may want to find a job that can be flexible for you while you’re making these changes for yourself.
Good luck, night owls!
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