press release
Published: 13 December 2018

Research into early death risk for night owls amongst 2018’s top-100 publications

Ground breaking sleep science research from the University of Surrey has been ranked amongst the top-100 most-mentioned scholarly articles in 2018 out of 2.8 million research outputs.

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The 2018 Altmetric Top 100 is a rigorous ranking of academic research and the conversations it sparks in the research community, and the Altmetric score of the publication (2,134) is the highest of any work ever published from the University of Surrey.

Night owls have a ten per cent higher risk of dying sooner than their “lark” counterparts, according to the research by Malcolm von Schantz, Professor of Chronobiology at the University of Surrey and Kristen Knutson, Associate Professor of Neurology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, published in April 2018 in the journal Chronobiology International.

When the research was originally published, it generated significant media attention in the UK and around the world.

Malcolm von Schantz,  Professor of Chronobiology at the University of Surrey, said: “As I said at the time, this is a public health issue that can no longer be ignored. It is important to emphasise that we don’t believe that being an evening type is causing the increased mortality in itself. Our interpretation of our findings is that the danger is probably caused by evening types being forced to follow a daily schedule designed for morning types. This can easily cause sleep deprivation and a condition known as social jetlag.

“I hope that the high profile this research has gained, and the attention fellow academics are paying to it, will lead to employers, policymakers and others giving serious consideration to allowing evening types to start and finish work later, where practical.

"We need more research about how we can help evening types cope with the higher effort of keeping their body clock in synchrony with sun time. But in the meantime, growing awareness will hopefully help individuals, organisations and healthcare systems to start to take action to protect night owls from avoidable harm.”

The study that led to this publication was supported by the University of Surrey Institute of Advanced Studies Santander fellowship and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases grant R01DK095207 from the National Institutes of Health. 


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