In the world of sleep science, people are often placed into two categories: early and late chronotypes. Early chronotypes are ‘morning larks’ or people who tend to go to bed early and wake up early. Late chronotypes are ‘night owls’ or people who tend to go to bed late but, due to personal, academic or professional commitments, must wake up earlier than they would like.1
Because of social schedules (school and work), late chronotypes sleep fewer hours than they need and accrue sleep debt on work days which they repay on free days. This discrepancy in the sleep pattern between work days and free days is known as ’social jetlag’.2 Social jetlag is associated with a number of health problems3, and while it isn’t exclusive to late chronotypes, studies suggest it affects them more so than others.1
In 2018, the BBC reported a study of some 433,000 people which had some alarming findings, including that night owls are 10% more likely to die prematurely than so-called morning larks.6 The authors of the paper branded this a public health issue, and stated that more needed to be done to help night owls navigate a morning lark world.5
Bearing this in mind, we’re take a look at the scientific benefits of waking up early, and some of the things night owls can do to adjust their sleep schedules and improve their sleep quality.
Waking up early and mental health
The same study that the BBC reported on found that night owls are 90% more likely to have psychological disorders than morning larks. Other studies support this, with evidence pointing to late chronotypes being more at risk of anxiety, depression, or substance-use disorders.7
Furthermore, late chronotypes often try to mediate their wellbeing through smoking and alcohol consumption.8 Such actions, and the overconsumption of both, can result in a plethora of negative health consequences including cancers and cardio-vascular diseases.9
But what about people who go to bed early and wake up early? Well, they tend to have more time in the morning. And because they have more time – to exercise, to eat a proper breakfast, to get ready, to commute – they avoid waking up and immediately feeling stressed. A study found that morning larks tend to have higher levels of positive affect and mental health, and that this was the case for both younger and older adults.10
Evidence also suggests that morning people who wake up early enjoy a lowered risk of depression and schizophrenia.11
Waking up early and physical health
In many ways the physical benefits of waking up early, like the emotional benefits, are linked to time.
As mentioned before, morning larks typically have more time to get more done in the day. And that includes exercising. Exercise brings with it a number of benefits such as reducing stress and stimulating the production of endorphins that improve mood and act as natural painkillers.12 By contrast, a study found that night owls are more sedentary than morning larks, and struggle to maintain an exercise schedule.13
And just as morning larks have more time to exercise, they also have more time to prepare and eat a healthy breakfast – if they choose to do so. A study found that night owls often have a poorer diet quality and lowered physical performance.14 They tend to have a higher fast-food consumption and a lower vegetable intake. And such dietary patterns can contribute to obesity.15
Potentially linked with such behaviours, late chronotypes are also 30% more likely to have high blood pressure or hypertension than early chronotypes.16
Lastly, and connected with the above points, morning larks are also found to be more alert in the mornings.17 They exhibit better physical performance than night owls, who suffer from daytime sleepiness and perform poorly both cognitively and physically during typical work hours.18 This is also a potentially life-threatening problem for night owls who drive to work, as they are less attentive and more prone to errors at 8 in the morning.19
5 simple tips for waking up early
- Adjust your sleep schedule so that you are still getting 7 hours of sleep, aiming to get to sleep and wake up 2 to 3 hours earlier than usual
- Consistently stick to your new sleep schedule, also on weekends
- Get as much outdoor light as possible during the morning, and limit light exposure at night
- Make sure you practise good sleep hygiene
- Try B・SYNC ON, the wake up pill clinically proven to help you wake up with ease after 7 hours of sleep.
The first three points may seem like obvious advice, but they have proven to be effective in helping late chronotypes mitigate the negative effects of social jetlag and enjoy the benefits of waking up early. Researchers who observed a group of night owls following the above found that, after 3 weeks, participants began to experience lowered levels of stress and depression, as well as improved cognitive and physical performance.20
Of course, to help you put into practise the above three points, we recommend you focus on your sleep environment, your sleep routine, and your sleep habits. We cover this in more detail in our posts on how to sleep well and how to wake up early.
Night owls who struggle to wake up in the mornings are also likely to benefit from B・SYNC ON, the world’s first clinically tested supplement for sleep inertia that’s designed to help you wake up with ease. It contains only natural ingredients, and comes with a patented delayed-release technology that ensures you wake up 7 hours later feeling refreshed and alert.