The trusty old chestnut tells us that the early bird gets the worm. But what do night owls get?
Depressed. At least, that’s what new research tells us.
A study found that people who wake up with the sun tend to have a bright and cheery attitude, while late risers are moody, and have a higher risk of several mental health conditions.
But changing your sleep habits may not be enough to counteract these effects, because it seems your genes help determine whether your body runs late or early.
A new study published in Nature Communication linked waking up early to genes that lower a person’s risk of having depression or schizophrenia.
The research analyzed data from 250,000 Americans who used 23andMe, plus 450,000 people from the UK health research collection Biobank.
Overall, night owls ranked their own well-being lower than early birds, and proved to be at a higher risk for certain mental illnesses because of their genes. But that doesn’t mean early risers won’t or can’t develop those conditions too.
"It is incredibly complicated," the study's lead researcher Jacqueline Lane told Today. She's an instructor of medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
"The genetics about being a night owl is only part of it."
Past studies have more bad news for people who stay up all night: they also have a higher risk of obesity and diabetes. But experts say those outcomes have more to do with a person’s health habits than genes.
If your internal clock is naturally "set" later than the rest of us, forcing yourself to work in a world made for early people can be seriously stressful.
Some researchers actually recommend trying to manage your schedule as much as possible, so you’re up and working at a time that suits your body.