Late to rise, early to die

Night owls tend to die slightly earlier than early risers – possibly because they’re so often forced to defy their body clocks. Researchers from Britain and America tracked about 430,000 people who were asked whether they preferred mornings or evenings. Over a six-and-a-half-year period, those who said they were “definite” evening types were 10% more likely to die than those who described themselves as “definite” morning people. Night owls were also more prone to depression, diabetes, neurological disorders and other health problems.

The researchers attribute the difference to society being organised around schedules that suit early risers. Forced to get up, say, in time for work at 9am, night owls become sleep-deprived, which has a knock-on effect on their health. A partial solution may be for night owls to take low doses of the sleep-regulating hormone melatonin – but not without first consulting their GPs. (reported in The Week)

As someone who has had a lifetime of insomnia (on some occasions failing to go to sleep for four nights in succession) I find it strange that in general lack of sleep is not taken seriously, doctors included. My own answer is very regular and strenuous exercise, in my case in the gym. It involves walking at 4.4 mph for 2.5 miles every time, plus other strength exercises. This doesn’t necessarily help sleep itself but it sets mind and body buzzing and gets you through the day satisfactorily, if sometimes grumpily. My other observation is that all remedies, including pharmaceuticals, wear off and you have to alternate with other methods. But this is boring for good sleepers. I promise not to mention it again on this blog.