Waking Up Earlier Won't Make You Healthier, But May Make You Happier (Plus Other Insights on Early Risers vs. Night Owls)

Waking Up Earlier Won't Make You Healthier, But May Make You Happier (Plus Other Insights on Early Risers vs. Night Owls)

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Nancy Mitchell
Jun 24, 2015

In all the world there are two types of people — and you probably know which one you are. There are the people who happily bound out of bed in the morning but tucker out long before midnight, and the people who love to sleep in but also love to burn the midnight oil. And it's not just schedules that are different: studies have shown that early risers and night owls have (statistically) significant differences in personality. Such as:

1. Morning people are happier.
A 2012 study that surveyed morning people and night people about their current moods found that morning people report being in a better mood than their night owl counterparts. The researched theorized that this might be attributable to night people having to constantly adjust to a schedule that feels unnatural, waking up earlier than they would like and working during hours where they're not at their best.

2. But not healthier.
Another study showed that despite the wisdom of Ben Franklin, early risers aren't any healthier than their night owl counterparts. And, in fact, that data showed that the night owls were a bit wealthier, which might help to make up for all the early mornings and general grumpiness.

3. Night owls get around more.
A German study of 284 males found that, while early risers and night owls have the same amount of sex, night owls have more sexual partners (and are more prone to infidelity). This might change if more bars were open at 8 am.

4. They also have terrible habits.
A Finnish study found that night owls smoked and drank a great deal more than their early rising counterpart, which is not at all surprising considering many morning types are ready to fall asleep about halfway into their second drink.

5. Working when you don't feel like it can lead to unexpected results.
Night owls are typically more alert in the late hours of the evening, while early risers are at their best early in the morning. But a 2011 study on morningness and work performance found that participants were better able to solve problems requiring creativity at non-optimal times of the day: that is, the night owls actually did better on creative problems early in the morning, while the early risers performed better later in the day. Proof that your 'type' isn't everything — and that pushing through the fog of tiredness can have serendipitous results.

I discovered all these insights on this very interesting article from Fast Co Design. Check it out now for even more (scientifically backed!) differences between early risers and night owls. (Like: morning people are cooperative and agreeable... but night people are better at baseball. So there's that.)

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