Science Shows That Morning People Are Essentially Healthier And Happier
There are basically two types of active people…the early birds, and the night owls. For some, it may be due to preference, for others, dictated by their work. Whatever category you belong to, note that a recent study explains the time you decide to be active actually has an impact on your overall physical and mental health.
An instructor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, Jacqueline Lane, published her findings of a sleep study she conducted, which revealed that early risers are mostly healthier and happier than night owls. This was published in the Nature Communications journal. The professor observed that morning people have a specific genetic component that lowers their risk of chronic illnesses and depression. “ Individuals who tend to be happier tend to be morning-type individuals,” she explained.
The study had a sample population of two groups of people: 250,000 people in the US who used the DNA and ancestry services of a biotech company, 23andMe; and 450,000 people in the UK who enrolled in the biorepository Biobank . Lane’s team used sleep timing measures to evaluate circadian biology and its relation to genes. Circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats every 24 hours.
The groups were separated by those who wake up early and are active in the morning, and those who sleep late (for whatever reason), and are more active at night. Lane and her team examined their genomes to find out the relationship between their preferred wake-up time and their genes, and how it affects their health. It was interesting, to say the least, what the results showed.
Lane stated, “We show that being a morning person is causally associated with better mental health but does not affect body mass index or risk of type 2 diabetes.” At least that is good news for the nite owls. However, she also stressed that, “ There is a link between evening preference and a higher risk of schizophrenia and depression.” Well, there had to be a negative for the night people…
But, the professor also explained that it does not mean that if you don’t sleep when the sun goes down that you are at risk for developing mental health disorders. “It is incredibly complicated,” Lane points out. “The genetics about being a night owl is only part of it. It is more about environment, with living out of sync with your internal clock. Trying to change a night owl to a morning lark has serious health consequences.”
Lane admits that more research is actually needed, on how sleep cycles are affected by our genes. “Understanding if you are a morning or evening person can really impact the schedule you choose,” she said. “ It might determine when you choose activities or the timing of your meals.”
But night owls should not really worry, especially if your job dictates your activity, like night security guards, night-shift nurses, and the like. And there are also people who rise early, but enjoy the nightlife more. So, whatever you are, morning lark or night owl, just remember to live a healthy life as much as you can. And enjoying your life, is a start, whatever time of day. So don’t worry…be happy.