Who Is Happier and Healthier: Morning People or Night Owls?

What time of day you function best is associated with your outlook on life.

Ever wonder how on earth your coworkers are so chipper in the morning? It’s likely they’re morning people, and they have a better outlook on life than the rest of us.

That’s according to new research published by the American Psychological Association in the journal Emotion this week. Researchers have found that morning-type individuals—both young adult and seniors—report higher levels of positive emotions, stable personalities, and good health. On the other hand, night owls are more likely to have poor health, are more susceptible to depression, and drink and use stimulants more.

For the study, researchers asked 435 young adults and 277 adults to self-report their chronotype using the Morningness Eveningness Questionnaire. Chronotype indicates during what time of day a person functions best. Participants also reported their mood, selecting from a list of adjectives including active, peppy, tired, and drowsy. Finally, they judged their overall health on a scale of one (poor) to ten (excellent).

Researchers found that young adults and adults who were morning people had a more positive outlook on life; seniors were more likely to be morning people overall. “Our study adds to evidence of a relationship between positive effect and chronotype by demonstrating that morningness is associated with greater positive, but not negative, effect in a similar manner in both younger and older adults,” researchers wrote.

In addition, morning people were associated with better health and well-being. Researchers noted that previous research has found night owls are more likely to rate their health as fair or poor.

But why does being a morning person appear to be better for one’s health and well-being? Researchers said there are a couple possible reasons: 1) Evening people are forced to wake earlier than their preferred time to do everyday activities, resulting in sleep loss and emotional distress. However, morning people can do activities during their preferred times. 2) It may have to do with a relationship between our circadian rhythm and chronotype. Think of those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder—morning light exposure is a popular form of therapy. “These improvements suggest that early sleep/wake times may have positive emotional effects,” researchers said.

The full study is available at the American Psychological Association’s website