Morning Type or Night Owl? --- Does
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October 17, 2016
By Susan Callahan, Contributing Columnist
Carole King sang it best when she said "you've got to get up every
morning with a smile on your face and show the world that there's love
in your heart! Really, Carole? That doesn't sound like me.
Okay, few of us spring out of bed like a jack rabbit anymore. But once
upon a time we did. When we were younger, there were mornings ---
many more mornings at least ---when we literally jumped out of bed.
Even after we became teenagers and surliness replaced morning
cheeriness, most of us still remember days when we had lots more
energy in the mornings than we have now.
As we age, our waking patterns change. So do our sleep patterns. As
older people, we become more likely to never sleep in late and to go to
bed earlier and earlier. Think about it. What teenager goes to bed
before 10PM? And what person older than 60 can sleep in until noon?
It just rarely happens.
Over several decades, scientists have studied sleeping and waking
patterns of people to try to discern whether it makes any difference to
our health, our effectiveness as workers. Now, scientists have even
discovered that your natural preference for morningness or
eveningness may predict your future net worth.
Circadian Rhythms --The Natural Animal in All of Us
Morningness and eveningness are ideas that reflect a biological truth.
We humans all have internal body clocks.
In fact, all animals have internal body clock. Animals in the woods
don't use alarm clocks to wake up or sleeping pills to go to sleep.
They wake up naturally, if they are meant to be awake by following the
cues of nature. The best cue is sunlight. Animals which are meant to be
awake during the day ---called "diurnal" animals --- wake up as the sun
There are of course animals which are meant to roam around at night.
These are called "nocturnal animals". These animals are active when
the moon is out and the sky is black.
The rhythms inside animals that respond to the 24 hour clock of nature,
either rising with the sun or rising with the moon are called "circadian
Everything about us --- our hormones, our attention span, even our
blood pressure --- is affected by these natural circadian rhythms.
Humans are by nature diurnal, day-roaming animals. When we lived in
caves, we hunted during the day, ate. We slept at night. But that
hasn't stop many of us from developing distinctly night-owlish patterns.
Morningness versus Eveningness --The Difference Between Being
Young and Old?
If you can't remember when, then you have adopted the
sleeping/waking patterns of the elderly. Scientists have a name for this
old age pattern of going to bed early and getting up early. It's called
"morningness". The opposite pattern, of staying up late and sometimes
gettimg up later in the mornings is called "eveningness".
So what, you say? Morningness and eveningness predict your tendency
to be depressed (here evening types are more likely to be depressed)
and it may even determine your chances for accumulating a big net
Eveningness Is Bad for You If It's Caused by Stress
Are you a night owl because of stress? Are you staying up late at night
because you can't stop thinking about problems? Greater stress, less
frequent physical activity and a less healthy diet were associated with
eveningness, according to a 2014 study from the Institute of
Behavioural Sciences, Semmelweis University , Budapest in Hungary.
Morningness Is Associated with Positive Personality and Character
Generalizations are almost never true. But here is one that seems borne
out by science.
Morning people have more positive personality traits. People who
exhibit "morningness" also tend to have a host fo other positive
character and personality traits.
In 2014, scientists from Italy studied a group of 184 yoga students to
see whether morningness or eveningness was linked in any way with
their personality traits. The study was conducted by the Department of
Medicine and Aging, University of Chieti-Pescara, in Chieti, Italy.
What they found, not surprisingly, is that people are almost never
100% one type or another. But, in general, morning types score
"significantly higher than Evening types on Conscientiousness,
Friendliness, Scrupulousness, Openness to Culture, emotional Stability,
emotion Control, they score higher than intermediate types on
Conscientiousness, Friendliness, Scrupulousness".
If you carefully read that list of character and personality traits
associated with morning types, it almost identically tracts the list of
traits that studies have found produce success at work ---
conscientiousness, friendliness and emotional stability and emotional
control. Morning types tend to see projects through to completion with
Morning people make good employees, get higher grades on exams and
are more likely to secure good incomes.
But here's the shocker. While morning types make good employees,
evening night owls are smarter and end up accumulating more wealth,
scientists have found.
Evening types tend to be better at "inductive reasoning" and are more
creative and inventive, according to a 2013 study from the University of
Madrid. Morning types tend to be better at deductive tasks, such as
accounting. Deductive types are more comfortable with certainty while
those better at inductive reasoning understand that some "facts" really
are mere probabilities, so they are better able to draw conclusion which
are hedged by a "maybe".
You need to be able to operate in a world in which not everything is
certain in order to succeed in complex industries and to manage people
well. People are never "certainties".
Inductive reasoners become people more likely to rise to the CEO levels.
None of this means that being an evening type means that you are
going to be smarter at dealing with all probabilities and managing all
types of people but it does mean that you have a better shot than most
morning types. There are always going to be able to find counter-
examples. For example, apparently Steve Reinemund, the former CEO
of PepsiCo, wakes up every day around 5 a.m. to jog four miles.
But, whether you are a naturally morning type or a night owl, you are
better off sticking with a schedule, scientists have learned.
Healthy People Tend to Stick to a Sleep Schedule
Healthy people don't often change their sleep schedules. They go to be
at the same time each night and they wake up more or less at the same
time. Changing your sleep schedule or waking up schedule by more
than 30 minutes either way has been linked to unhealthy diets and
lifestyles, scientists have found.
In 2016, scientists from The University of Newcastle in Australia looked
at 1,317 randomly selected people. The average age of the participants
was 57 years old.
What they found was that people who changed up their sleeping
schedules by 3 minutes or more
What's interesting is that it doesn't matter if you change your schedule
to get more sleep or if you change it to get less sleep. It's simply worse
for you if you change it often.
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