Mind & Body

Bad news, night owls, early risers tend to be happier


A new study has examined the connection between your body syncing with your daily schedule and psychological conditions.

Are you the type of person that springs out of bed naturally in the morning, or do you have five alarms set that you’ll inevitably press ‘snooze’ on every single one?

If you tend to wake up naturally with the sun, it means your body clock is healthily in sync with your daily schedule and circadian rhythm. If not, you could be more at risk for depression and anxiety.

A recent study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry examined data from 85,000 participants across the UK and found that those with an inconsistent sleep cycle-a trait usually associated with night owls-are more likely to experience mental health issues.

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“We found that people who were misaligned from their natural body clock were more likely to report depression, anxiety and have lower wellbeing. We also found the most robust evidence yet that being a morning person is protective of depression and improves wellbeing,” lead author Jessica O’Loughlin, of the University of Exeter told Science Daily.

“We think this could be explained by the fact that the demands of society mean night owls are more likely to defy their natural body clocks by having to wake up early for work.”

An out-of-sync body clock bodes poorly for those who do shift work, too, as a previous study of more than 28,000 Brits pointed out. It showed that shift workers were 33 percent more likely to have depression than people who didn’t work irregular schedules.

“We know that shift-work alters the circadian rhythm, that is our normal sleep-wake cycle which matches day-night cycle,” said Luciana Torquati, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Exeter in the UK.

“This disruption can make people moody and irritable, and lead to social isolation as shift-workers time-off matches family and friend’s work and life commitments.”

On the flip side, our sleep expert Olivia Arezzolo noted in an article for Body+Soul, 97 percent of with depression report sleep disturbances: “Happiness hormones serotonin and dopamine are partially regulated by the circadian rhythm: so disrupting this delicate internal clock by lack of sleep or social jet lag impacts their biochemical pathways, and as a result, your mood.”