If you’re a night owl, it turns out you are 27 percent more likely to suffer from depression than a morning person. There are a variety of reasons that this could be the case, but regardless of the reasons, the fact remains, according to the Journal of Psychiatric Research. This could explain why older adults generally report being happier than young adults, because they tend to wake up earlier.
Of course, if you’re a night owl and find yourself to be perfectly happy, no need to change your habits because of a study. However, if you’re one of those night people who could be more satisfied with life than you currently are, switching to waking up early may very well be the solution.
More Light Equals More Happiness
People who wake up early inevitably get more natural light in their days than people who wake up late. Light is linked to a positive mood. For example, people living in very northern regions have a higher incidence of depression in winter, when they don’t see much light of day. Vitamin D, which comes from the sun, is linked to mood as well. There are parts of the brain, particularly those connected to depression, which have Vitamin D receptors. Vitamin D may increase the brain’s available serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps control mood.
Also, experts say that healthy light-dark cycles are another thing that can have a huge impact on mood. A healthy light-dark cycle means that you see bright light in the morning and dim light at night. It follows the pattern of your circadian rhythm more closely, leaving the body with less to cope with, or less stress, in other words.
Waking Up Early And Your Physical Health
Morning people claim to feel healthier than night owls, research states. One reason could be that natural morning people get better sleep, and getting good sleep is essential in a healthy immune system. The biological clock follows the light-dark cycles mentioned earlier, so a person who naturally wakes up with the sun and goes to bed when night falls tends to get more restful sleep.
If you find it difficult to wake up early, there are ways to hack your sleep schedule to make it easier. Make sure you are getting lots of light exposure in the morning. This might mean sleeping with the blinds or curtains partially open so that you wake up naturally when the sun hits you. Once you start waking up naturally at this time, your body will become accustomed to it, and you won’t have such a hard time rising at an early hour.
The Problem Of Social Jet Lag
Social jet lag means the biological clock is not in sync with the social clock, and night owls tend to have this issue. Society is constructed around a person whose schedule begins in the morning. If it isn’t natural for you to wake up in the morning but you have to anyway for work or school, this could leave you with negative feelings associated with your tiredness. If society’s expectations didn’t revolve around waking up early, perhaps night owls would be happier than morning larks. However, that is not the case.
It is much more difficult for an evening person who prefers to wake up at 11:00 am to follow society’s nine-to-five schedule than a morning person who easily gets up at 7:00 am. This, in turn, seems to leave night owls much more susceptible to depression. As we age, we tend to more naturally transform into morning people. Older people just get up earlier without having to try. It should come as no surprise then that older adults report much higher levels of happiness than teenagers and young adults in general.