The best bedtime for your health

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People who tend to go to bed late and wake up late (known as owls) are 10 percent more likely to die early compared to the early to bed, early to rise crowd (known as larks), according to a new study based on data from 433,000 adults in the UK. They also have higher risks of health problems like diabetes and psychological, neurological, and gastrointestinal disorders.


Whether you’re a lark or owl is partly determined by your genes, says study author Kristen Knutson, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology and sleep medicine at Northwestern University in Chicago. Owls are susceptible to more health risks partly because the workday forces them to rise before they can log the recommended seven-plus hours of shut-eye.

But the dangers also stem from staying up alone, Knutson says, when nobody can hold you accountable for things like snacking or watching too much TV. These habits can exacerbate depression and lead to patterns of unhealthy behavior.


If you live with someone else, turn in when they do to avoid the risks of being up alone at night. Always aim to fall asleep seven to nine hours before your alarm is scheduled to go off, Knutson says. Train your body by going to bed a little earlier each night until it becomes habit.

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