In 2018, a scientific study offered morning people some encouraging news: on average, they lived longer than their night owl counterparts. At the time, the statistics showed a clear difference between the life expediencies of morning and night people — but without a tremendous sense of why this was the case. Now, a new study has entered the picture to shed some light on the subject — and offer a convincing theory of what it is about night people that could affect their life expediencies so much.
Short answer: it might not be the state of being a night person that takes years off their lives as much as it what they’re doing at night. As Live Science reports, a recent study conducted in Finland indicated that night owls tend to drink and smoke more — with those factors, rather than the time of day when someone feels most energetic, having an impact on someone’s lifespan.
The study, published in Chronobiology International, followed up on an earlier survey conducted on groups of Finnish twins. There, the study’s authors found that smoking and drinking were largely responsible for the increased number of deaths of self-described “evening people.”
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The study’s authors went on to detect “no increased mortality among non-smokers who were at most light drinkers.” In other words, staying up late won’t necessarily take years off your life — but smoking a pack a day after midnight just might.