HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Friday, March 31, 2006

Sleep Later to Prevent Smoking?

The New Scientist reports on a study that indicates that individuals who smoke may do so because they are getting up too early.   


Till Roenneberg at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich and his colleagues used questionnaires to assess the "chronotype" of more than 500 volunteers - a measure of how much of a night owl or early bird you are. As with previous large studies, they found that the average person prefers to sleep between 12.30 am and 8.30 am, although chronotypes vary so widely that the latest owls are still awake when the earliest larks are rising. . . .

Roenneberg believes his finding could help explain why most people who take up smoking begin as teenagers. Previous studies have shown that teenagers' chronotypes creep later until early adulthood before receding again, leaving them among the most likely to live beyond their chronotype's means.


However, there may be a solution. Roenneberg suggests making school and work schedules flexible, as well as using bright light in the mornings to help the body adapt to unnatural routines. While such changes might be difficult, they could well save lives, as social jet lag may account for a large chunk of the smoking population, he says.

Well, I think I better go get some more sleep because I don't want to start an expensive and deadly habit . .  .[bm]

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