Are You a Morning or Evening Person and Why It Matters?
Do you wake up on form every morning, wide awake and raring to go, or are you more of an evening person who hits snooze at every opportunity, but works productively into the evening hours? A fairly recent study showed that a third of people in the UK are self-confessed night owls? Lots of people don’t really feel like catching the proverbial worm. But what is it about these different chronotypes and why are you one type or the other? Can you be both? And why does it even matter? Read on to find out.
There’s Actually a Genetic Reason for Our Sleeping HabitsAccording to research published in Nature Communications, 351 genes regulate your circadian rhythm, that is, your body’s internal clock. Before this research, we’ve been aware of only 24 of those genes. How many of those genes you carry determines which chronotype you are. The research revealed that 5% of the participants who carry most of those genes hit the sack about 25 minutes earlier than the 5% who carry the least. That means there are 351 reasons why you are either a lark or a night owl (the terminology often used to describe morning or evening people) Let’s explore some scientific insights into the characteristics of each.
Early RisersAccording to a BMJ study, the notion that getting up early is a key to productivity and success appears to be wrong. The study found that going to bed early and getting up early doesn’t necessarily make you wiser, wealthier, and healthier. The night-owl study participants were actually financially wealthier than their early-riser counterparts. However, another scientific paper found that early risers consume less alcohol and psychostimulants, such as caffeine and nicotine. So, in general, they might be a bit healthier. Morning people may also be in a generally better mood than evening people due to their good night’s rest and lack of stress related to meeting work expectations. A few more studies found that early birds are more persistent and cooperative than their nocturnal friends, and they score higher in terms of conscientiousness and agreeableness. It also seems that proactiveness is a trait of the morning chronotype.
Night OwlsNight owls may be less persistent, cooperative, agreeable, proactive, and conscientious, and more susceptible to bad habits, such as smoking or drinking alcohol. They also score lower in terms of indecision and procrastination. However, they seem to be more intelligent, as per another interesting morningness-eveningness research. Now, there’s something to brag about to your morning-loving friends. According to a study on the time-of-day effects on problem-solving, evening people tend to be more creative in their non-optimal time of day. The same was found for their morning counterparts.
Can You Modify Your Sleeping Pattern?As per the research above, it seems you can’t really control whether you’re a morning or evening person. It’s all predetermined by your genes. But can you switch from one chronotype to the other? And should you try it all? Well, another research published in The Lancet Psychiatry journal found a correlation between night owls and poor mental health. The findings revealed that evening people are at an increased risk of depression, bipolar disorder, mood instability, lower happiness, and subjective loneliness. Many mental health issues have genetic roots, but you still might want to modify your sleeping pattern if you’re an evening person. You’ll maintain a healthy circadian rhythm, feel more energised throughout the day, and improve your overall health. Here are some of the things suggested that you can do to shift your natural chronotype:
- Wake up at the same time every day – as early as you can.
- Soak up some vitamin D ideally from sunlight after waking up.
- Eat a nutrient-rich breakfast as soon as you get up.
- Don’t drink coffee until 11 AM.
- Eat lunch at the same time every day.
- Don’t eat anything after 7 PM.
- Go to bed at the same time every day – earlier than midnight.