Early Bird vs. Night Owl: Who Wins?


Guest Blog by Gloria Gibrael, Volunteer at Culmore Clinic and MPH Student at George Mason University.

A new study has found that people who identify as “night owls” or “evening people” have a higher risk of dying sooner than those who identify as “early birds” or “morning people.” This study was performed in the UK and observed over 400,000 adults for nearly 6.5 years. Those who stated they were “definitely evening people” had a 10% higher risk of dying than those who stated they were “definitely morning people.”

The study took into account factors such as disease status, age, ethnicity, body mass index, smoking status and sleep duration before concluding that those who went to bed late and woke up late were less healthy overall than those who went to bed early and woke up early. However, participants who stated they were “more of an evening person” did not have a higher risk of dying than those who stated they were “more of a morning person.” Only those who identified as definitely evening people had a higher risk.

The researchers think that these results may be attributed to work and life schedules, where jobs start in the early morning and end late afternoon/early evening. Those who go to bed earlier and wake up earlier are more in sync with work and social activities than those who go to bed later.

While this is good news for early birds, it may cause concern for those who identify as evening people or night owls. The researchers suggested that those who normally go to bed late start trying to gradually go to bed earlier and using less technology before bedtime as well. Note that going to bed earlier is a very gradual process– you won’t be able to change your sleep habits in just one or even a few nights. But don’t get discouraged; just keep at it slowly and over time you will be that early bird who catches the worm!

To read more about this study, click here.