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5 Advantages Early Birds Have Over Night Owls

by Elyse Loeb

The early bird catches the worm, so the expression goes.

But is there really any truth behind this?

According to studies, yes. There are actual recognizable benefits to waking up early.

Early birds, rejoice!

early birds

Benefits Of Waking Up Early

1. Becoming an early riser will make you more successful.

It is plain and simple. A 2008 study out of Texas University concluded that those students identifying themselves as early birds earned a full point higher on their GPAs than those who identified themselves as night owls.

Who knew waking up early could be the difference between a 4.0 and a 3.0?

Related: 4 Things All Successful People Have In Common

2. Studies have shown that morning people are actually happier than night owls.

We are not just referring to being happier for those 15 minutes in the morning, but rather they are happier with life overall.

Night owl tendencies tend to fade as people age, and the study says this switch to a morning-focused schedule could be why older adults are happier than younger ones.

The study involved two populations: the first was made up of 435 adults ages 17 to 38, and the second of 297 older adults, ages 59 to 79. Both groups answered questions about their emotional state, how healthy they feel, and their preferred “time of day.”

Related: 5 Benefits To Being A Night Owl In An Early Bird World

The study found that “morningness” was associated with greater happiness in both age groups.

3. Morning people are often in better shape than night owls.

The reasoning behind this is simple. Waking up early allows people extra time to exercise before the family is awake or before their official workday begins.

For this reason, many successful people are early birds. This morning exercise helps to boost mood and provides energy for the rest of the day.

4. Many say that waking up early leads to increased productivity.

Morning people have time in the morning to do work before everyone else is awake to distract them, whether this is sending some emails from home, or going into work early for an hour of quiet, uninterrupted time to focus.

Related: 7 Ways To Wake Up Motivated Every Morning

A recent study by Christopher Randler, a biology professor at the University of Education at Heidelberg, surveyed 367 university students, asking them when they were the most energetic and willing to change a situation. According to the study, morning people were more likely to agree with statements such as “I feel in charge of making things happen.”

5. Various studies have linked waking up early to possessing healthy character traits.

Early birds are more likely to exhibit traits like optimism, satisfaction, and conscientiousness. Night owls, those linked with creativity and intelligence, are more likely to exhibit traits such as depression, pessimism, and neurotic behavior.

Related: The Importance Of Optimism: How To Think Positive Thoughts

The Takeaway

Early birds are more likely to be successful, healthy, and happy compared to their night-owl friends. If you want a boost in productivity, health, or well-being, try waking up early; it may give you the extra edge you need to reach your goals.

So if you tend to stay up late and want to live a better life, should you start waking up early?

If you are already productive and happy, stick to what you know. Mornings aren’t for everybody. But if you are looking for a way to improve the way you live, consider waking up earlier. You never know…it could make a huge difference.

Photo by Eneas

Originally published in 2012 and updated in 2014. 

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Mark May 2, 2014 - 2:11 am

Waking early OR late in America is hazardous to your health. Work, work, live to work. Lucky if you get two weeks vacation per year. No naps during the workday, yet naps are associated with longevity and increased productivity. Give me the lifestyle of northern European socialist countries or Australia any day over slaving to make your corporate slave master rich while you are lucky to have health insurance with high copays. It’s the idiots who say I need to move who are the ones who need to move, so America can be a great country instead of a failed oligarchy run by right-wingers who worship money and neglect their families.

Chris Tindall November 3, 2013 - 8:23 pm

I was a night owl until 30, working or playing late into the night and often straight through. Then, I got married and promised myself that I wouldn’t sacrifice time with my bride for late nights at the office. So i switched and started working my overtime in the morning. Starting at 3:30 a.m. sounds crazy, but it’s no different than working until 9 p.m. except I’m home by 5, don’t have to deal with traffic, and get quiet time at work at the beginning of my day, when I’m fresh. I still get just as much sleep as before and now get to spend more time with my new son. Being a morning person is the better approach… and this is coming from a former proud night owl. Change the hate-hate relationship you have with your alarm clock into a love-hate relationship.

maire August 19, 2013 - 8:03 pm

Getting up really early is actually bad for you health.YOU are more likely to develop type 11 diabetes and h.eart disease . Going out running or walking really early while the dew is still on the grass can give you arthritis Also most heart attacks occur early in the morning.You will also get more wrinkles from lack of beauty sleep and you are likely to eat more as the body tries to compensate for lack of sleep.Unless you really have to get up for a purpose just stay in bed until the sun is good an high in the sky. That is natures way of telling us that its warm and bright enough to be up.

bama October 28, 2013 - 10:44 am

You sound highly un-intelligent right now. Lack of beauty sleep? Not if you go to sleep at a decent time. Early to bed early to rise. It is always good to be up before the sun.

Wally July 30, 2013 - 6:04 pm

Waking up early is for inmates , school kids , soldiers ,boss to answer to or you will be firedddddd, just to name few. Waking up late is for being your own boss , no one to answer to

maldis June 7, 2013 - 6:55 am

Morning people are more succesfull because the day rythm in our culture is designed by/for them. I’d rather relax in the morning and work at night. It’s not about waking up earlier, it’s about blood circulation getting slowly up to speed and being highest at night.

Spoonsy June 1, 2013 - 8:49 pm

The early bird may catch the worm, but the second mouse catches the cheese…

Victoria July 29, 2013 - 3:01 am

Don’t forget, ‘The early worm gets eaten.’

Sharon June 1, 2013 - 12:08 am

And ice pops give you heat strokes. (Hey, as sales of ice pops increase, the occurrence of heat strokes increase too, so it must be true.)

I believe that those morning people report being happier than night owls because they are not forced to live in a constant state of jet lag. I often wonder how would they like having to go to work just as their own day is starting to wind down, say at 3 pm, and being expected to remain all peppy and chipper in the small hours of the morning.

misery chick November 27, 2013 - 3:13 am

AMEN! I’m 53 & my body runs on ‘night owl’, so I’ve been jet lagged @ work for DECADES. Miserable.

Sherry May 27, 2013 - 8:21 am

I’m retired now, but working as a public safety employee I had rotating days off and rotating shifts every 28 days , so I became to used to not dealing with Saturday people.
especially working midnights. Getting off at 6 am . grocery shopping , mall shopping was
great. even going to the casino’s early in the morning while NORMAL 9 to 5 . or 8:30 to 4:30
workers working made it less crowded. Being retired now I like getting up early . I like getting out enjoying the day as much as I can instead of wasting time sleeping unless I’m sick with cold or flu maybe . Once they drop that box to my final resting place. I’ll have eternity to sleep.

Andy May 21, 2013 - 2:43 am

If the early bird catches the worm isn’t this a bit tough on the insomniac worm looking for health and happiness from an early call?

John May 15, 2013 - 4:03 pm

God help the classical musician. they need to be on top of their game for a 10AM dress rehearsal, squeeze in a 30 minute nap in the afternoon, get into a tux with no thread out of place and be on top of their game from 8PM until 10:30. No wonder they are a dying breed.

TomH May 11, 2013 - 7:40 am

If people who rise earlier are healthier, happier, and more successful than those who rise late, this does not allow us to conclude that rising earlier will lead one to be healthier, happier, and more successful. For instance, the reverse could be true: perhaps people who have a naturally happier disposition, who are more driven for success, and who are more conscientious about their health, favour getting up early. Alternatively, there could be external factors driving all these things – perhaps there are genetic aspects which leads people both to get up early, and to be healthier, happier etc.

Only be the random experimental assignment of people to get up early vs late, and testing the differences over time, could you really conclude a causal relationship.

Al Boddy January 16, 2013 - 2:08 am

I`ve always risen and gone to bed when the sun rises through the blinds
and starts to set in the evening!
A good walk every morning with the magic SUNRISES and a stroll watchiing
magnificent SUNSETS in the evening here in Western Australia CHARGES up my day and
calms me for sleeping!

Nobody April 12, 2013 - 10:10 pm

So you sleep 12 hours a day? That is a lot.

Melissa Moberly November 8, 2012 - 5:13 pm

waking up early is great u get more done and think more better mind clearer

misery chick November 27, 2013 - 3:24 am

Sorry, not for me! Nothing like coffee, early morning walk, meditating clears my mind. I start work between 8-8:30, and around 10-10:15 my eyes finally open all of the way, & only then my mind STARTS waking up…

Frank Ewing September 4, 2012 - 5:09 am

Getting to bed earlier and rising earlier does feel more natural and more gets done!

Frank Ewing September 4, 2012 - 5:08 am

It just feels so natural to get to bed earlier and rise earlier….and more does get done too!

addie perteet September 9, 2012 - 8:26 pm

i would be sick and i realized i felt so much better joy comes in the morning

Jeannie September 4, 2012 - 2:55 am

I have never been a morning person even as a small child. I even starting a night time office cleaning business and called it night owl office cleaning! lol….

I think its whatever you feel comfortable with that makes the difference i often stay up so late that it becomes morning…so i get both! I value my alone time more so than being in the company of others and so maybe being a night owl makes that a bit easier to achieve.

as far as success i guess its all depending on your concept of what success is not everyone needs to make big bucks to feel or be successful…to me being happy with how i spend my time is a great success …i will most likely not be rich famous or drop dead gorgeous but those things hold no value for me.

Jane March 30, 2013 - 9:45 am

What a great post. I second all you have said, Cbadeen!

However, in saying that I love the mornings, but they would be even better if work was over already. In other words, work will no longer be associated with mornings, it will be associated with on my way home from work, the sun will be rising so I will watch it whilst having a great bupper (a supper at breakfast time)

Melissa April 17, 2013 - 11:47 am

I find it very frustrating that morning people expect everyone else to be the same way. My husband and I are naturally night owls. Around 2% of the population are this way. For us, morning is NOT a good time. We are sluggish and slow to pick up on things, tired, frustrated, and grumpy. If we wake up later and go to bed later, we feel better. It’s been this way for me since I was a very young child.

mar May 12, 2013 - 8:57 pm

I don’t know why many early risers seem to think people who get up at 9, or 10 a.m. are lazy, even if they sleep the same amount of time as the early birds, just later. Some early risers also love to BRAG on how they get up so early. There are jobs that start at all hours. There are some lazy people around, of course, but it should not be determined by the clock, but by the person. I even know some retired people who brag on getting up at 5 and 6 am who consider themselves superior to other retirees who sleep in to 9 am. To each their own, I say.

Cbadeen August 21, 2012 - 1:52 pm

I have been told by my closest friends, family and former employers, that I have absolutely no concept of time. I am the happiest person I have known of my entire life and I am 40 years old. I own four thriving companies, work from home, hotels or on the road, rise no earlier than 8am and my clients gravitate to me because of my positivity and optimism. Even with one of my trades being investment consulting, I still manage to avoid stress more than my peers.
I don’t consider myself an early riser, but I know for a fact, that I am definitely a night owl. I consider the late evenings to be my time of peace and quite with no distractions. I don’t have kids either, though…that can be a huge reason for low stress. I do have a wonderful fiancé, who understands my concept of time, or lack thereof and he and all my friends love me just the same. I have noticed that I am much more successful than many early risers I know. I get all my business taken care of and do everything I need to do in a days time.

I would say the benefits of rising early for me, would be getting to see the sunrise and smell the morning dew, while having coffee and Baileys on the porch; listening to the birds without the sound of cars going by yet; having more daylight for outside events and making first tracks in the powder on a gorgeous ski day! I have to admit…I can be drawn from slumber early in the A.M. For some self serving reasons. However I don’t sleep past 10 either, even on a weekend.

Henry De Graaf August 19, 2012 - 11:24 am

A friend of mine has been an early riser for his whole life. He usually gets up at 5 or 5:30.
He has had problems with depression all his life. How does that fit in to this theory?

harun kirbay September 18, 2012 - 12:42 am

this can be from organic reasons . early rising helps you to be happy and exactly more succesfull. dont forget it

Henry De Graaf August 19, 2012 - 11:22 am

The worst schedule for working is the swing shift. It takes years off a person’s life.
You never get enough sleep. Our circadian rhythms need to be balanced. No one is a natural graveyard shift person, not even the best night owl. Not when it comes to doing a job that requires concentration anyway.

cc August 22, 2012 - 11:57 am

I am a 70 yr. old female who did factory work on swing shifts for 27 yrs.
It was really hard then and I feel the effects if it now. Avoid it if at all possible. But,sometimes
“you gotta do what you gotta do.”

Marshall July 14, 2012 - 4:00 pm

If we lived in a vacuum and didn’t need to consider interactions with others, then sure, rising early and going to bed early would be great. But, you can’t always control the schedules of family members, clients, associates, friends, etc. Plus, there are times where I’m so stressed out and apprehensive about the next day (work, etc.) that going to sleep is the LAST thing I want to do, because then, the next moment of consciousness that I’m dreading comes that much sooner…in conscious hours.

Henry De Graaf August 19, 2012 - 11:19 am

If night owls are more creative, and “robins” more productive, why can’t we
just wake up at a normal time–say 7? Unfortunately our schedules have to match
our employers, family demands.

In a lot of countries they have the siesta, which to me sounds like the sanest idea.

Comments are closed.

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