Night Owls at a Disadvantage?


If you are Bono or Mick Jagger, the tendency to be a “night owl” may be a distinct advantage, at least in the world of rock and roll. Unfortunately for most night owls, the real world demands a 9 to 5 existence.

Recent research from the University of Barcelona confirms that night owls have it tougher in the working world.

The study compared “morning people,” those early birds who like to get up at dawn, and “evening people,” night owls who prefer to stay up late and sleep in. Among the differences they found is that morning people tend to be more persistent. Morning types are also more resistant to fatigue, frustration and difficulties, which often translates into lower levels of anxiety and lower rates of depression, higher life satisfaction and less likelihood of substance abuse.


On the other hand, “evening people tend to be more extravagant, temperamental, impulsive and novelty- seeking, “with a higher tendency to explore the unknown.” They are more likely to suffer from insomnia and ADHD. They also appear to be more likely to develop addictive behaviors, mental disorders and antisocial tendencies, and even to attempt suicide.”


In the study, researchers reportedly looked at the lifestyles and personality traits of 700 Spanish psychology students from two universities. The subjects ranged in age from 18 to 32 and included slightly more women than men. So where do these differences between night owls and early birds stem from? There are two possible explanations, the researchers said.


“One is that people’s genes play a role in determining their circadian rhythm — the inner clock that regulates sleep and other physiological processes,” said study author Ana Adan at the University of Barcelona. “Several studies have linked different circadian rhythm genes with the development of mood disorders, schizophrenia and drug consumption.”


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