Science Explains Why Early Birds Have Better Mental Health Than Night Owls
Good news early birds – scientists have discovered that you are likely to be happier than night owls. While 20% of us are night owls, 10% are larks, and most of us are somewhere in between the two. So if you are in that lucky 10%, you might just have the edge in terms of your mental health and well-being.
A good day starts with a good morning — larks totally understand this.
In this study by Christopher Randler, early risers reported more positive feelings of well-being and more conscientiousness than night owls. They have also been found to procrastinate less. This could be attributed to their beginning as they mean to go on. As we all know, the first hour of the day can really set the mood for the whole day. If you are relaxed, you have a better chance of carrying on feeling that way throughout your day.
Larks also have more chance to exercise in the morning, and this seems to play a key factor in lowering levels of stress, while night owls tend to do less exercise.
Night owls don’t intend to sleep late, they can’t sleep or have deeper issues.
Those who are night owls can have a challenge getting enough sleep. A German study found differences in chronotype (whether you’re an average, late or early sleeper) can mean that night owls have differences in the ‘integrity of their white matter’ of their brains. But what does this mean? It, unfortunately, means that you are more vulnerable to experiencing depression, and tend to show some less healthy habits, like smoking and drinking.
This could well be to deal with the difficulty of not getting enough sleep, as night owls tend to be sleep deprived. Not getting enough can make a huge impact on your life and your mood. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter and then gone to work, you will know this all too well! Fortunately, it’s not all bad for night owls, as they have been shown to be the smarter and more creative of the two groups.
Having to wake up early anyway, night owls get more stressful.
In our modern culture of always working harder and sacrificing our comfort for our goals, sleeping can seem less appealing to those who are driven. But when it comes to our work life, we are actually a lot more productive when we have had enough sleep, that’s at least 7/8 hours a night.
Getting this balance can be more of a challenge for night owls, whose sleep pattern does not fit in well with the traditional ‘nine to five’ working schedule. This could be why owls often experience ‘social jet lag’, meaning that they have to get up early even when their body is not made for it. This could account for their lower levels of happiness and higher levels of stress; as the brain cannot function as well as those who are well rested. Social jet lag can leave night owls feeling out of the loop, and even socially isolated as they don’t fit the perceived norm.
Change your sleep pattern and your mood will change.
If you’re not getting enough sleep, it may be possible to change your sleep pattern by changing certain environmental factors.
Prep the bedroom environment
- Remove electronics from your bedroom – Get the TV and any electronic devices away from your bed, so your body and mind will get used to the fact that the bedroom is for sleep only.
- Dim the lights – Light easily stimulates brain activities. When you dim the lights, it encourages melatonin (the sleep hormone) to be produced.
- Turn it down – Eliminate noise if possible. Or you can try some calming sounds like white noise, which actually blocks all the little sounds that could be distracting to your brain.
Start a bedtime routine
- Same time every night – Maintain a regular sleep time, that’s how your internal clocks can get used to the resting time.
- Warm shower – A short and moderately warm shower adjusts your body temperature and helps you relax.
- Sleep-boosting beverages – Cherry juice, chamomile tea, passionfruit tea, milk and water are the best drinks to boost your sleep.
Relax your body with some stretching
You can do these simple stretches on your bed before you go to sleep:
Whichever your chronotype, we know for sure that getting a good nights sleep is the best way to make sure your brain is working well and you are at your best mentally and emotionally.
So now you have an excuse – to enjoy your rest and your bed as much as you enjoy work and play.
Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io
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