Some people are super productive and alert early in the morning, while others feel that way late at night. We all know this to be true because we see it play out in our daily lives. But few of us can say why some people are morning larks while others prefer being night owls.
Research suggests that whether someone is a morning person or a night owl is related to their circadian rhythms, or the “internal clock” that tells them when it’s time to go to bed and when it’s time to wake up. These rhythms are influenced by genetics as well as one’s environment and behavior.
When it comes to the distinctions between morning people and night owls, research suggests that genetics may play an especially strong role.
A study conducted by genetics analysis company 23andme looked at almost 90,000 people who had submitted their DNA. Researchers asked survey respondents if they were morning people or night owls, then analyzed their DNA.
Researchers found 15 genetic variants that were linked to being a morning person. The study also found that gender may have a role to play: While 48.4 percent of women described themselves as morning people, only 39.7 percent of men did the same.
In addition, people over 60 were more likely to prefer mornings than people under 30—meaning it’s possible that people’s preferences change over time.
According to sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus, morning larks and night owls may also have different brain structures that contribute to their preferred sleep-wake schedules.
For most people, Breus says, it can be stressful to fight against one’s natural body clock—for example, if people need to stay up late with a new baby or wake up early for work. He says there are plenty of things we can do to make our schedules align with our circadian rhythms.
“Strong sleep habits—being careful about alcohol consumption close to bedtime, sticking to regular sleep and wake times, making sure one’s bedroom is dark and electronic-gadget free—can help reinforce a sleep schedule, even if it doesn’t align perfectly with one’s natural tendencies,” Breus wrote.
[Editor’s Note: The content provided on this site is for general informational purposes only. Any information provided is not a substitute for professional medical advice. We encourage you to consult with the appropriate health expert if you have concerns.]
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Joe Auer is the editor of Mattress Clarity. He mainly focuses on mattress reviews and oversees the content across the site.
He likes things simple and take a straightforward, objective approach to his reviews. Joe has personally tested nearly 250 mattresses and always recommends people do their research before buying a new bed. He has been testing mattresses for over 5 years now, so he knows a thing or two when it comes to mattress selection. He has been cited as an authority in the industry by a number of large publications.
Joe has an undergraduate degree from Wake Forest University and an MBA from Columbia University.