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Do you know if you are a morning or an evening person?

2 Feb, 2024
Jürgen Swinnen

Biorhythms and happiness: morning people versus evening people

Are you a morning or an evening person? To answer that question, think about the following scenarios to give you the answer:

The alarm clock starts blaring before your day starts with the morning news at 7:00 a.m. How do you respond? Do you jump out of bed, ready for a new day, or do you turn over, with a pillow over your head, wishing for some extra sleep? If you prefer the second option, chances are mornings aren’t your favourite time of the day…

According to chronobiologist Niki Antypa of Leiden University, morning and evening people equates to each group being around 20-30% of the population – whilst around 50% of the population have no preference to waking up early, or staying up late at night. However, it is reported that apparently women are more likely to prefer mornings more often than men.

Does it actually matter whether you are a morning or an evening person? And can you change yourself?

Are you a morning person…

Morning people seem to have no trouble getting up early. They immediately spring into action and feel energised, even in the early hours. Their energy level is already high enough to start the (working) day. During the day, their sleep pressure gradually increases, so they are often ready to go to sleep at around 10 p.m. in the evening. Are you a morning or evening person?

… Or rather an evening person?

Evening people, on the other hand, need more time to wake up in the morning and have more trouble getting out of bed. They are more often late for work as it takes them longer to get going in the morning. Their biological clock runs differently, causing them to peak later in the day, often in the evening hours.

Melatonin production occurs later for people who say they are Night Owls, so going to bed early is often a waste of time. When they do try to reset their body clocks and go the bed early, they often lie awake for long periods of time – which can lead to serious sleep problems. They usually do not seek their beds until after midnight.

am i a morning or an evening person
Photo by Freepik

Early bird vs. night owl: pros and cons

Research from the University of Exeter in England, which examined around 450,000 people, shows that morning people are generally less likely to suffer from depression and anxiety disorders than evening people.

This large-scale study is highly representative and shows that early risers have a more positive start to the day. They take time for a healthy breakfast more often, are less rushed and less stressed. Moreover, our society often focuses on the daily routine of morning people, with work hours from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For evening people, the situation is different. Their biological rhythms are at odds with the traditional daily schedule and can lead to sleep deprivation. For example, if you go to sleep at midnight and get up at 6:30 a.m., you build up a 1 to 1.5-hour sleep deficit each night. This can lead to constant fatigue and irritability, a kind of “social” jet lag.

Can you turn an evening person into a morning person?

An interesting question! Which chronotype you are is a biologically determined preference and apparently partly genetic. But before you ask yourself if you can become an evening person, it is important to determine if you really are an evening person.

Perhaps you keep yourself awake longer than necessary due to intense activity, food choices that hinder sleep, or overuse of blue-light screens? Some aspects of your sleep habits you can influence yourself. However, research indicates that our genes play a role in determining whether we are a morning or evening type, and that the number of hours of sleep required is different for each individual.

Many successful people, including Michelle Obama, Oprah Winfrey and Richard Branson, like to get up early to make the most of their day. But radically changing your biological clock can be challenging.

You can try to adjust your rhythm gradually by following a modified sleep-wake pattern. However, also remember that even though your biorhythms may affect you, your chronotype will probably never change completely.

6 tips for night owls who want to change their sleep patterns

  1. Consider using a wake-up light or light alarm clock, which mimics the rising sun and wakes you up naturally.
  2. If you prefer a slower pace, start by opening all the curtains in the house and sitting by the window. While doing so, don’t forget to enjoy a healthy, nutritious and high-energy breakfast and an invigorating cup of coffee!
  3. Seek out natural light first thing in the morning, such as taking a morning walk, which can improve both your energy and mental health.
  4. Exercise a lot during the day but avoid intense exercise in the evening. Choose relaxation over exertion.
  5. Gradually shift your rhythm by getting up and going to bed 15 minutes earlier each day, and take time to get used to it.
  6. In the evening, use dim light instead of bright lights to stimulate melatonin production. Keep your bedroom as dark as possible for better sleep.

Curious about sleeping with your eyes open? Then be sure to read on in this blog:

FAQ: Are you a morning or evening person

About 30 – 40% of people consider themselves morning people. Some 50% consider themselves an evening person. Just under 10% go on late into the night and consider themselves a night owl.

It is common for a morning person to get up early between 04:00 and 07:00. Morning people have a habit of getting out of bed without any problems. Evening people usually go to bed late after 0:00 at night.

Whether it has to do with stress, depression or simply too little sleep, it is wise to get out of bed immediately to establish a healthy rhythm. When you wake up, it is time to wake up quietly. Most people cannot get out of bed early because they have not slept enough hours.