Oh, the blessings of being a morning person. They wake up before the alarm. They don't even need coffee because life is so great why wouldn't they be awake to enjoy it? And they arrive at work looking fresh-faced and ready to tackle the day. Yes, early birds most definitely have happier mornings than the night owls among us, but according to a new study, they've been given yet another blessing from the universe: They're just happier in general. I guess it's true what your mother said as she was trying to pry you out of bed in time to not miss the school bus: Life isn't fair.
Previous research has shown that teenagers tend to be happier if they're morning people, but this new study examined people across the age spectrum. The researchers looked at two groups of people, one with people ages 17 to 38 and another with people ages 59 to 79. They all filled out questionnaires about their emotional states, how they feel health-wise, and which time of day they prefer. What they found was that by age 60 most people described themselves as "morning types," which is interesting since only about seven percent of young people are morning types. But by the time people age, only about seven percent are night owls.
Researcher Renee Biss said there was a clear benefit to being a morning person across the board: "The 'morningness' was associated with greater happiness emotions in both age groups." Early birds also said they felt healthier than the night owls did. So the good news is, even if you're miserable as a night person now, you'll probably spend your golden years waking at the crack of dawn and catching the proverbial worm.
So why exactly are morning people so happy and feeling so healthy? Well, it probably has to do with the fact that they're not constantly having to fight their natural tendency to sleep late. The world, as you may have noticed if you've spent any time living in it, is heavily oriented toward morning people. We have to get up early, get to work on time, and then actually pay attention once we're there. All of which is much easier to do if you're programmed to wake with the sun—or at least to wake up alert instead of sitting in a fog for the first few hours you're awake like most night people do. Forcing yourself to fit into the morning mold can be tough, says Biss: "An evening person may go through their week feeling unhappy because they have to get up earlier than they would like to." Indeed, it is enough to make one quite pissy.
Also, night people might not be getting the right amount of good sleep since their bodies are meant to be awake for part of the time that society tells them they should be sleeping. This is also known as "social jet lag," since your internal clock is out of sync with society's clock. As previous research has shown, not getting enough sleep can have serious consequences for your health and immune system. And if you feel tired all of the time, you're probably not going to describe yourself as filled with joy.
So are night people just doomed to be miserable until they get older and magically turn into morning doves? Pretty much. Okay, not quite. You can supposedly trick yourself into becoming slightly more of a morning person, but it sounds like a deeply unpleasant endeavor. Even if you can't convert yourself, at the very least you can try to make sure you're getting enough sleep to be able to maintain a slightly sunny outlook on life even if you'd really prefer not to be up when the actual sun is out.