Do you enjoy getting up early and getting a head start on your day?
Or do you prefer to stay up late into the night while everyone else sleeps?
Your preference as an early bird, late-night owl, or somewhere in between is known as your “chronotype.” It likely has a lot to do with your genes. It might also influence your happiness levels and risk of developing certain chronic diseases.
Night Owls Tend To Be Less Physically Active
If you’re a night owl, you might be more likely to have a generally unhealthy lifestyle. People who stay up late can be more likely to smoke, drink alcohol, and eat unhealthy foods. They’re also less likely to get enough physical activity.
This increases the risk of obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
But this isn’t necessarily true for all night owls. If you are still getting enough high-quality sleep each night, you may be able to offset some of the health risks associated with being a night owl.
Early Birds Tend To Be Happier
Early risers generally report higher levels of health and happiness, especially in older age groups.
This may be related to the way light affects our moods. Exposure to sunlight in the morning can help regulate our circadian rhythms and make you feel more alert and awake. It can also help regulate your appetite, improve your mood and make you feel more optimistic.
In contrast, when night owls stay up all night and sleep through the day, they miss out on this crucial sunlight exposure, so they may be more likely to experience depression and seasonal affective disorder symptoms.
High-Quality Sleep Matters Most
Whether you’re an early bird or a night owl, the most important thing is to ensure you consistently get approximately 8 hours of high-quality sleep. This means setting a regular sleep schedule and ensuring your bedroom is dark, quiet, and cool enough to promote deep, restful sleep.
If you’re struggling to get the sleep you need, talk to your doctor about possible solutions. You may need to make lifestyle changes, such as avoiding caffeine in the evening or cutting back on late-night screen time. You might also be experiencing a sleep disorder that can be corrected with medication or other treatment.
And although your genes may play a role in your chronotype, remember that you can still choose to make healthier lifestyle choices and change your routines. Physical activity, a healthy diet, and social interactions can help improve your sleep quality and overall health, no matter what time of day you prefer to be awake or asleep.