Not Getting Enough Sleep? It Can Damage Your DNA, Study Says

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Not Getting Enough Sleep? It Can Damage Your DNA, Study Says

BY GQ PAN

February 19, 2019 Updated: February 20, 2019

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Getting too little sleep can sometimes feel like torture. It can also lead to more serious health consequences than one can imagine. According to a recent study published in the journal Anaesthesia, sleep deprivation can affect our genes and even damage our DNA, something that can lead to cancer.

The Case of Night Shift Doctors

In the study, a team of researchers from University of Hong Kong looked at 49 healthy full-time doctors, 24 of whom had to work overnight onsite shifts, which meant they were required to work from late afternoon until the next morning.

The study set out to examine the effects of acute sleep deprivation on DNA damage.

hospital doctor
(Valeopardo/pixabay.com)

After three night shifts for the on-call group and three days of adequate sleep for the control group, blood samples were taken from all participants. Upon analyzing the blood samples of the participants, the researchers found that the on-call doctors had lower DNA repair gene expression and more DNA breaks than those who didn’t take night shifts. To put it simply, their DNA was more damaged.

However, more research is needed to determine the significance of DNA damage in the relationship between sleep deprivation and disease, as the study’s sample size was small.

(Qimono/Pixbay)

The team also noted that many other factors could explain why shift workers seem to have a greater predisposition to suffering from chronic illnesses. These range from changes to activity and eating patterns to disruption to the body’s circadian rhythms and sex hormone balances.

The researchers pointed out that a discrepancy that may have affected the study’s results, since their night shift participants were younger than their control group, as junior doctors are more likely to work the night shift than their senior counterparts. In addition, all of the participants were Chinese, so the findings might not apply to a wider population.

DNA Damage: How Bad Can it Be?

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DNA damage has been associated with numerous serious health issues, ranging from heart attacks and diabetes to certain types of cancer. In their paper, researchers stated that a meta-analysis of 2 million participants confirmed a link between working night shifts and incidence of breast tumors, although studies on other kinds of cancers have given mixed results.

Just as our body shows signs of aging, such as grey hair and wrinkles, so does our genome. Damage comes from chemical reactions that alter the structure of our DNA, and from errors introduced when it is copied. Our cells protect against these ravages, but these mechanisms usually don’t have everything fixed perfectly.

As a result, cells gradually accumulate DNA damage over a lifetime. This means as you age, your genome is no longer the same in every cell. When a cell divides it will pass on these changes, and as these mutations accumulate, there is more and more likelihood that cancer will emerge.

Common Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

(Marcos Mesa Sam Wordley/Shutterstock)

Lack of sleep doesn’t just make you tired; it can have dangerous unseen effects. Our brains simply stop functioning properly without getting enough sleep. This means we have to struggle with memory, learning, planning and reasoning.

A lack of sleep can have severe effects on our performance, ranging from irritability and low mood, to an increased risk of heart disease. Here are some common dangers of sleep deprivation:

Impaired Judgement

angry boss
(Craig Adderley/Pexels)

Sleep deprivation has a negative impact on your visual working memory, making it difficult to tell the difference between relevant and irrelevant stimuli in your environment. It also affects your emotional intelligence, behavior, and ability to manage stress.

Mood Disorders

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Mental health problems are linked to sleep disorders, and sleep deprivation can play havoc with neurotransmitters in the brain, mimicking the symptoms of depression, anxiety and mania.

Raised Blood Pressure

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Poor sleep can raise blood pressure and in the long term is associated with an increased risk of diseases such as coronary heart disease and stroke. This danger is increased in people with sleep apnea.

Weight Gain

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Sleep deprivation affects the levels of hormones involved in regulating appetite. Levels of leptin, the hormone that tells you how much stored fat you have, decreases, and levels of ghrelin, the hormone that tells your body that you’re hungry, increases. As a result, you eat more.

It doesn’t really take a long time, or a lot of sleep deprivation, to bring the weight on. A study from researchers of University of Colorado reported that one week of sleeping about five hours a night led participants to gain an average of two pounds.

Delusions

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Severe sleep deprivation can lead to delusions and hallucinations, seeing or sensing things that aren’t really there. In extreme cases, it can lead to temporary psychosis or symptoms that resemble paranoid schizophrenia.

Sleep Deprivation Is Killing You And Your Career

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The next time you tell yourself that you’ll sleep when you’re dead, realize that you’re making a decision that can make that day come much sooner. Pushing late into the night is a health and productivity killer.According to the Division of Sleep Medicine at the Harvard Medical School, the short-term productivity gains from skipping sleep to work are quickly washed away by the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation on your mood, ability to focus, and access to higher-level brain functions for days to come. The negative effects of sleep deprivation are so great that people who are drunk outperform those lacking sleep.

Why You Need Adequate Sleep to Perform

We’ve always known that sleep is good for your brain, but research from the University of Rochester provides the first direct evidence for why your brain cells need you to sleep (and sleep the right way—more on that later). The study found that when you sleep your brain removes toxic proteins from its neurons that are by-products of neural activity when you’re awake. Unfortunately, your brain can remove them adequately only while you’re asleep. So when you don’t get enough sleep, the toxic proteins remain in your brain cells, wreaking havoc by impairing your ability to think—something no amount of caffeine can fix.

Skipping sleep impairs your brain function across the board. It slows your ability to process information and problem solve, kills your creativity, and catapults your stress levels and emotional reactivity.

What Sleep Deprivation Does to Your Health

Sleep deprivation is linked to a variety of serious health problems, including heart attack, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and obesity. It stresses you out because your body overproduces the stress hormone cortisol when it’s sleep deprived. While excess cortisol has a host of negative health effects that come from the havoc it wreaks on your immune system, it also makes you look older, because cortisol breaks down skin collagen, the protein that keeps skin smooth and elastic. In men specifically, not sleeping enough reduces testosterone levels and lowers sperm count.

Too many studies to list have shown that people who get enough sleep live longer, healthier lives, but I understand that sometimes this isn’t motivation enough. So consider this—not sleeping enough makes you fat. Sleep deprivation compromises your body’s ability to metabolize carbohydrates and control food intake. When you sleep less you eat more and have more difficulty burning the calories you consume. Sleep deprivation makes you hungrier by increasing the appetite-stimulating hormone ghrelin and makes it harder for you to get full by reducing levels of the satiety-inducing hormone leptin. People who sleep less than 6 hours a night are 30% more likely to become obese than those who sleep 7 to 9 hours a night.

How Much Sleep Is Enough?

Most people need 7 to 9 hours of sleep a night to feel sufficiently rested. Few people are at their best with less than 7 hours, and few require more than 9 without an underlying health condition. And that’s a major problem, since more than half of Americans get less than the necessary 7 hours of sleep each night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

For go-getters, it’s even worse.

A recent survey of Inc. 500 CEOs found that half of them are sleeping less than 6 hours a night. And the problem doesn’t stop at the top. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a third of U.S. workers get less than 6 hours of sleep each night, and sleep deprivation costs U.S. businesses more than $63 billion annually in lost productivity.

Doing something about it

Beyond the obvious sleep benefits of thinking clearly and staying healthy, the ability to manage your emotions and remain calm under pressure has a direct link to your performance. TalentSmart has conducted research with more than a million people, and we’ve found that 90% of top performers are high in emotional intelligence (EQ). These individuals are skilled at understanding and using emotions to their benefit, and good sleep hygiene is one of the greatest tools at their disposal.

High-EQ individuals know it’s not just how much you sleep that matters, but also how you sleep. When life gets in the way of getting the amount of sleep you need, it’s absolutely essential that you increase the quality of your sleep through good sleep hygiene. There are many hidden killers of quality sleep. The 10 strategies that follow will help you identify these killers and clean up your sleep hygiene. Follow them, and you’ll reap the performance and health benefits that come with getting the right quantity and quality of sleep.

1. Stay Away from Sleeping Pills

When I say sleeping pills, I mean anything you take that sedates you so that you can sleep. Whether it’s alcohol, Nyquil, Benadryl, Valium, Ambien, or what have you, these substances greatly disrupt your brain’s natural sleep process. Have you ever noticed that sedatives can give you some really strange dreams? As you sleep and your brain removes harmful toxins, it cycles through an elaborate series of stages, at times shuffling through the day’s memories and storing or discarding them (which causes dreams). Sedation interferes with these cycles, altering the brain’s natural process.

Anything that interferes with the brain’s natural sleep process has dire consequences for the quality of your sleep. Many of the strategies that follow eliminate factors that disrupt this recovery process. If getting off sleeping pills proves difficult, make certain you try some of the other strategies (such as cutting down on caffeine) that will make it easier for you to fall asleep naturally and reduce your dependence upon sedatives.

2. Stop Drinking Caffeine (at Least after Lunch)

You can sleep more and vastly improve the quality of the sleep you get by reducing your caffeine intake. Caffeine is a powerful stimulant that interferes with sleep by increasing adrenaline production and blocking sleep-inducing chemicals in the brain. Caffeine has a 6-hour half-life, which means it takes a full 24 hours to work its way out of your system. Have a cup of joe at 8 a.m., and you’ll still have 25% of the caffeine in your body at 8 p.m. Anything you drink after noon will still be near 50% strength at bedtime. Any caffeine in your bloodstream—the negative effects increasing with the dose—makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.

When you do finally fall asleep, the worst is yet to come. Caffeine disrupts the quality of your sleep by reducing rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, the deep sleep when your body recuperates most. When caffeine disrupts your sleep, you wake up the next day with a cognitive and emotional handicap. You’ll be naturally inclined to grab a cup of coffee or an energy drink to try to make yourself feel more alert, which very quickly creates a vicious cycle.

3. Avoid Blue Light at Night

This is a big one—most people don’t even realize it impacts their sleep. Short-wavelength blue light plays an important role in your mood, energy level, and sleep quality. In the morning, sunlight contains high concentrations of this “blue” light. When your eyes are exposed to it directly (not through a window or while wearing sunglasses), the blue light halts production of the sleep-inducing hormone melatonin and makes you feel more alert. This is great, and exposure to a.m. sunlight can improve your mood and energy levels. If the sun isn’t an option for you, try a blue light device.

In the afternoon, the sun’s rays lose their blue light, which allows your body to produce melatonin and start making you sleepy. By the evening, your brain does not expect any blue light exposure and is very sensitive to it. The problem this creates for sleep is that most of our favorite evening devices—laptops, tablets, televisions, and mobile phones—emit short-wavelength blue light. And in the case of your laptop, tablet, and phone, they do so brightly and right in your face. This exposure impairs melatonin production and interferes with your ability to fall asleep as well as with the quality of your sleep once you do nod off. Remember, the sleep cycle is a daylong process for your brain. When you confuse your brain by exposing it in the evening to what it thinks is a.m. sunlight, this derails the entire process with effects that linger long after you power down. The best thing you can do is avoid these devices after dinner (television is okay for most people as long as they sit far enough away from the set). If you must use one of these devices in the evening, you can limit your exposure with a filter or protective eyewear.

4. Wake Up at the Same Time Every Day

Consistency is key to a good night’s sleep, especially when it comes to waking up. Waking up at the same time every day improves your mood and sleep quality by regulating your circadian rhythm. When you have a consistent wake-up time, your brain acclimates to this and moves through the sleep cycle in preparation for you to feel rested and alert at your wake-up time. Roughly an hour before you wake, hormone levels increase gradually (along with your body temperature and blood pressure), causing you to become more alert. This is why you’ll often find yourself waking up right before your alarm goes off.

When you don’t wake up at the same time every day, your brain doesn’t know when to complete the sleep process and when it should prepare you to be awake. Long ago, sunlight ensured a consistent wake-up time. These days, an alarm is the only way most people can pull this off, and doing this successfully requires resisting the temptation to sleep in when you’re feeling tired because you know you’ll actually feel better by keeping your wake-up time intact.

5. No Binge Sleeping (In) on the Weekend

Sleeping in on the weekend is a counterproductive way to catch up on your sleep. It messes with your circadian rhythm by giving you an inconsistent wake-up time. When you wake up at the same time during the work week but sleep past this time on the weekend, you end up feeling groggy and tired because your brain hasn’t prepared your body to be awake. This isn’t a big deal on your day off, but it makes you less productive on Monday because it throws your cycle off and makes it hard to get going again on your regular schedule.

6. Learn How Much Sleep You Really Need

The amount of sleep you need is something that you can’t control, and scientists are beginning to discover the genes that dictate it. The problem is, most people sleep much less than they really need and are under-performing because they think they’re getting enough. Some discover this the hard way. Ariana Huffington was one of those frantic types who underslept and overworked, until she collapsed unexpectedly from exhaustion one afternoon. She credits her success and well-being since then to the changes she’s made to her sleep habits. “I began getting 30 minutes more sleep a night, until gradually I got to 7 to 8 hours. The result has been transformational,” Huffington says, adding that, “all the science now demonstrates unequivocally that when we get enough sleep, everything is better: our health; our mental capacity and clarity; our joy at life; and our ability to live life without reacting to every bad thing that happens.”

Huffington isn’t the only one. Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Sheryl Sandberg have all touted the virtues of getting enough sleep. Even Bill Gates, an infamous night owl, has affirmed the benefits of figuring out how much sleep you really need: “I like to get 7 hours of sleep a night because that’s what I need to stay sharp and creative and upbeat.” It’s time to bite the bullet and start going to bed earlier until you find the magic number that enables you to perform at your best.

7. Stop Working

When you work in the evening, it puts you into a stimulated, alert state when you should be winding down and relaxing in preparation for sleep. Recent surveys show that roughly 60% of people monitor their smartphones for work emails until they go to sleep. Staying off blue light-emitting devices (discussed above) after a certain time each evening is also a great way to avoid working so you can relax and prepare for sleep, but any type of work before bed should be avoided if you want quality sleep.

8. Eliminate Interruptions

Unfortunately for those with small children, the quality of your sleep does suffer when it is interrupted. The key here is to eliminate all the interruptions that are under your control. If you have loud neighbors, wear earplugs to bed. If your mother likes to call at all hours of the night, make certain you silence your ringer before you go to bed. If you had to wake up extra early in the morning, make sure your alarm clock is back on its regular time when you go to bed. Don’t drink too much water in the evening to avoid a bathroom trip in the middle of the night. If your partner snores . . . well, you get the idea. If you think hard enough, there are lots of little things you can do to eliminate unnecessary interruptions to your sleep.

9. Learn to Meditate

Many people who learn to meditate report that it improves the quality of their sleep and that they can get the rest they need even if they aren’t able to significantly increase the number of hours they sleep. At the Stanford Medical Center, insomniacs participated in a 6-week mindfulness meditation and cognitive-behavioral therapy course. At the end of the study, participants’ average time to fall asleep was cut in half (from 40 to 20 minutes), and 60% of subjects no longer qualified as insomniacs. The subjects retained these gains upon follow-up a full year later. A similar study at the University of Massachusetts Medical School found that 91% of participants either reduced the amount of medication they needed to sleep or stopped taking medication entirely after a mindfulness and sleep therapy course. Give mindfulness a try. At minimum, you’ll fall asleep faster, as it will teach you how to relax and quiet your mind once you hit the pillow.

10. When All Else Fails: Take Naps

One of the biggest peaks in melatonin production happens during the 1:00 to 3:00 p.m. time frame, which explains why most people feel sleepy in the afternoon. Companies like Google and Zappos are capitalizing on this need by giving employees the opportunity to take short afternoon naps. If you aren’t getting enough sleep at night, you’re likely going to feel an overwhelming desire to sleep in the afternoon. When this happens, you’re better off taking a short nap (even as short as 15 minutes) than resorting to caffeine to keep you awake. A short nap will give you the rest you need to get through the rest of the afternoon, and you’ll sleep much better in the evening than if you drink caffeine or take a long afternoon nap.

Bringing it all together

I know many of you reading this piece are thinking something along the lines of “but I know a guy (or gal) who is always up at all hours of the night working or socializing, and he’s the number one performer at our branch.” My answer for you is simple: This guy is underperforming.

We all have innate abilities that we must maximize to reach our full potential. My job is to help people do that—to help the good become great by removing unseen performance barriers. Being number one in your branch is an accomplishment, but I guarantee that this guy has his sights set on bigger things that he isn’t achieving because sleep deprivation has him performing at a fraction of his full potential. You should send him this article. It just might shake something loose.

After all, the only thing worth catching up on at night is your sleep.

This article first appeared on LinkedIn.

Scientists Have Discovered The Best Way To Combine Coffee And Naps So You Feel Less Tired

Author Article

Caffeine and napping have something in common. Both make you feel alert and can enhance your performance, whether that’s driving, working or studying. But some people are convinced that drinking a coffee before a nap gives you an extra zap of energy when you wake up.

How could that be? Is there any evidence to back the power of these so-called coffee naps? Or are we better off getting a good night’s sleep?

8 Bizarre Sleep Habits From Around The World

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Would you sleep on the job?

Are your sleep habits ruining your daily life? It might be worth taking a nap on the job!

To celebrate World Sleep Day on March 15, Brother UK has taken an in-depth look at the most bizarre sleep habits from countries around the world to see if they could have an impact on productivity.

Research via the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) suggests that lack of sleep can have a negative impact on emotion. Could naps of 20-30 minutes make for a more productive workforce, and have a positive impact on mood, concentration and attention?

Struggling to sleep? READ: How to sleep better – simple ways to get a good night’s rest

Sleep habits

1. China – Bring your bedroom to work

In factories and offices across China, the lines between bedroom and workspace are becoming increasingly blurred. Due to longer working hours, many employers now advocate a short nap after lunchtime to increase concentration. Certain offices have even installed temporary or permanent sleeping and washing facilities in their office spaces to encourage employees to stay round the clock.

2. Japan – Inemuri

Taking a nap at work could well be perceived as a sign of laziness, but not in Japan. The hectic lifestyle of Japan’s city dwellers has led to the wide-scale uptake of “inemuri”, or “sleeping whilst present”. Thanks to inemuri, Japanese workers can nap on public transport, at their desk or even during meetings – and it’s commonly seen as a sign of hard work.

Sleep habits

3. Spain – Siesta

Originating in Spain and parts of Latin America, the siesta is perhaps one of the most well-known daytime snoozing traditions across the globe. This practice might be under threat, however, with new business laws introduced in 2016 limiting how late employees can work, and effectively reducing the time they have to squeeze in an afternoon nap.

4. Italy – Riposo

Where the Spanish have a siesta, the Italians have “riposo”. Commonly taking place after lunch, riposo can last anywhere from 2-4 hours. Get us to Italy now! Frustratingly for tourists, this means that many attractions are closed throughout the day.

5. Norway – Napping outside

Take a stroll through Oslo, Helsinki or another Nordic town, and you might well see some infants taking a nap in temperatures as low as -5 degrees Celsius. Don’t worry – they haven’t been abandoned; sleeping outdoors in the daytime is actually believed to be very good for their health.

Sleep habits

6. Indonesia – Fear sleep

Stresses of work getting you down? The ominously named ‘fear sleep’ might be the solution. Locally referred to as “todoet poeles” – the practice of fear sleep enables people to nod off instantly to avoid feelings of excessive anxiety and stress. Nodding off when your boss walks in might not be the best solution, but regular naps could well help avoid work-related worry.

7. Botswana – Sleeping on your own schedule

You should sleep when it’s dark, correct? Not quite. At least, not in Botswana. The country’s native Kung hunter-gatherer tribe are well known for sleeping only when tired, regardless of the time of day. With an increased uptake of flexi-time, rise in self-chosen hours and growth of contract-based work, could businesses be embracing the way of the Kung sooner than we think?

Sleep habits

8. USA – Silicon Valley sleepers

Though it’s not a national custom just yet, sleeping on the job is widely being embraced by some of the USA’s biggest employers. Technology and software companies are leading the napping revolution, with firms like Google going so far as to have purpose-built sleeping pods installed in their offices to help employees rest and refresh.

Night Owls May Experience ‘Jet Lag’ On A Daily Basis

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Some people declare themselves to be morning larks, or early risers, and they effortlessly wake up at the crack of dawn and fall asleep earlier in the evening.

Others, however, are night owls, or evening people, who stay up until the early hours of the morning and wake up later in the day, if left to their own devices.

Previous research has shown that the night owls face some health risks due to their daily rhythms. These include a tendency towards poorer dietary habits, which, in turn, can increase the risk of metabolic conditions, such as diabetes.

Now, a study led by investigators from the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom has found out how activity patterns in the brains of night owls are different from those of morning people. The study also highlights how these differences can impact their lives and levels of productivity in a world that typically favors early risers.

“A huge number of people struggle to deliver their best performance during work or school hours they are not naturally suited to,” notes lead researcher Dr. Elise Facer-Childs, previously of Birmingham University and now based at the Monash Institute for Cognitive and Clinical Neurosciences in Melbourne, Australia.

“There is a critical need to increase our understanding of these issues in order to minimize health risks in society, as well as maximize productivity,” she emphasizes.

The researchers have now published their findings in a study paper featured in the journal SLEEP.

Brain activity in night owls

For this study, the research team recruited 38 healthy participants. They divided the volunteers into two groups, putting 16 early risers into one group and 22 late sleepers into the second.

The researchers split the participants into these two groups based on their melatonin and cortisol circadian rhythms — the natural circulation of these two hormones affect sleep and waking cycles.

The researchers monitored the participants’ sleeping and waking patterns, and the volunteers filled in questionnaires about their rhythms. On average, late sleepers went to bed at 2:30 a.m. and woke up at 10:15 a.m.

To assess brain activity patterns, the investigators asked the volunteers to undergo MRI scans. The researchers also tested the participants’ performance on various tasks they undertook at different times throughout the day to see how sleep-wake cycles affected daily functioning.

The team noticed a difference in brain activity patterns between the two groups, namely that night owls had lower resting brain connectivity in brain areas that scientists primarily associate with maintaining a state of consciousness. They correlated this with shorter attention spans, as well as slower reactions and lower energy levels.

Early risers performed better and had faster reaction times during morning tasks. They also declared themselves as being much less sleepy at that time.

On the contrary, as expected, late sleepers performed best and experienced the fastest reaction times around 8:00 p.m. However, even at the time when they were at their peak performance, night owls did not do much better than their early rising peers.

This suggests that throughout the day — or from around 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. — resting-state brain connectivity is affected in late sleepers, adversely impacting their productivity.

Social expectations ‘could be more flexible’

Dr. Facer-Childs likens the night owls’ state throughout the day to a form of constant jet lag, emphasizing that this may have a significant effect on their well-being in the long run.

This mismatch between a person’s biological time and social time — which most of us have experienced in the form of jet lag — is a common issue for night owls trying to follow a normal working day.”

Dr. Elise Facer-Childs

“Our study is the first to show a potential intrinsic, neuronal mechanism behind why night owls may face cognitive disadvantages when being forced to fit into these constraints,” she adds.

For this reason, the researcher argues that societies need to take a long, hard look at their organizational structures, chiefly in terms of working hours and how to become more accommodating to people’s individuals needs. This flexibilty should mean that night owls can put their best foot forward while avoiding adverse health outcomes.

“To manage this [situation], we need to get better at taking an individual’s body clock into account — particularly in the world of work,” Dr. Facer-Childs argues.

“A typical day might last from 9:00 a.m.–5:00 p.m., but for a night owl, this could result in diminished performance during the morning, lower brain connectivity in regions linked to consciousness, and increased daytime sleepiness,” she warns.

She further advises that “If, as a society, we could be more flexible about how we manage time, we could go a long way toward maximizing productivity and minimizing health risks.”

The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

Why Being A Night Owl Might Be Damaging Your Mental Health

Author Article

woman sleeping in bed

GETTY IMAGESCAIAIMAGE/PAUL BRADBURY

Not only is being a ‘night owl’ annoying when you have to get up for work the next day, it apparently affects more than just your body clock – it has a big impact on mental health, too.

According to a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, people who are naturally early risers are less likely to develop mental health problems than those who go to bed late and sleep in.

The large-scale genetics study, conducted at the University of Exeter, used data from 250,000 research participants signed up to the private genetics company 23andMe, and 450,000 people in the UK Biobank study. Participants were asked whether they were a “morning person” or an “evening person”, and their genomes were analysed, revealing certain genes people shared that appeared to influence sleep patterns.

Lead study author Samuel Jones, a research fellow studying the genetics of sleeping patterns at the University of Exeter, said:

“Part of the reason why some people are up with the lark while others are night owls is because of differences in both the way our brains react to external light signals and the normal functioning of our internal clocks.

“The large number of people in our study means we have provided the strongest evidence to date that ‘night owls’ are at higher risk of mental health problems, such as schizophrenia and lower mental wellbeing, although further studies are needed to fully understand this link.”

The results found uncovered an apparent causal link between being a night owl and being more prone to depression, anxiety and schizophrenia – with evening types 10% more likely to develop the latter condition.

However, they found no increased risk of obesity and diabetes among night owls, despite what some earlier studies have said.

Samuel Jones said the conclusion is that night owls are more likely to have to work against their natural body clock in school and the world of work, which may have negative consequences on their mindset.

So, how can you go about adjusting your sleep schedule? Hope Bastine, sleep psychologist for high-tech mattress maker Simba, says we need to identify our individual sleep needs first.

“Experiment with your productivity and your performance rate and adjusting your time schedule to that,” she told Cosmopolitan UK. “Find a rhythm, a schedule, a lifestyle that really suits you, and that makes you feel in harmony with yourself. Make sure your sleep schedule is as non-negotiable as possible.”

Putting sleep first? Done.

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