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Science Explains Why Early Birds Have Better Mental Health Than Night Owls

Science Explains Why Early Birds Have Better Mental Health Than Night Owls

Good news early birds – scientists have discovered that you are likely to be happier than night owls. While 20% of us are night owls, 10% are larks, and most of us are somewhere in between the two. So if you are in that lucky 10%, you might just have the edge in terms of your mental health and well-being.

Larks know how to utilize the morning to kickstart a good day.

In this study by Christopher Randler,[1] early risers reported more positive feelings of well-being and more conscientiousness than night owls. They have also been found to procrastinate less. This could be attributed to their beginning as they mean to go on. As we all know, the first hour of the day can really set the mood for the whole day. If you are relaxed, you have a better chance of carrying on feeling that way throughout your day.

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Larks also have more chance to exercise in the morning, and this seems to play a key factor in lowering levels of stress, while night owls tend to do less exercise.

Night owls don’t intend to sleep late, they simply can’t sleep or have deeper issues.

Those who are night owls can have a challenge getting enough sleep. A German study[2] found differences in chronotype (whether you’re an average, late or early sleeper) can mean that night owls have differences in the ‘integrity of their white matter’ of their brains. But what does this mean? It, unfortunately, means that you are more vulnerable to experiencing depression, and tend to show some less healthy habits, like smoking and drinking.

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This could well be to deal with the difficulty of not getting enough sleep, as night owls tend to be sleep deprived. Not getting enough can make a huge impact on your life and your mood. If you’ve ever pulled an all-nighter and then gone to work, you will know this all too well! Fortunately, it’s not all bad for night owls, as they have been shown to be the smarter and more creative of the two groups.

Having to wake up early anyway, night owls don’t sleep enough and get more stressful easily.

In our modern culture of always working harder and sacrificing our comfort for our goals, sleeping can seem less appealing to those who are driven. But when it comes to our work life, we are actually a lot more productive when we have had enough sleep, that’s at least 7/8 hours a night.

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Getting this balance can be more of a challenge for night owls, whose sleep pattern does not fit in well with the traditional ‘nine to five’ working schedule. This could be why owls often experience ‘social jet lag’, meaning that they have to get up early even when their body is not made for it. This could account for their lower levels of happiness and higher levels of stress; as the brain cannot function as well as those who are well rested. Social jet lag can leave night owls feeling out of the loop, and even socially isolated as they don’t fit the perceived norm.

Change your sleep pattern and your mood will change.

If you’re not getting enough sleep, it may be possible to change your sleep pattern by changing certain environmental factors.

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Prep the bedroom environment

  • Remove electronics from your bedroom – Get the TV and any electronic devices away from your bed, so your body and mind will get used to the fact that the bedroom is for sleep only.
  • Dim the lights – Light easily stimulates brain activities. When you dim the lights, it encourages melatonin (the sleep hormone) to be produced.[3]
  • Turn it down – Eliminate noise if possible. Or you can try some calming sounds like white noise, which actually blocks all the little sounds that could be distracting to your brain.[4]

Start a bedtime routine

  • Same time every night –  Maintain a regular sleep time, that’s how your internal clocks can get used to the resting time.
  • Warm shower – A short and moderately warm shower adjusts your body temperature and helps you relax.[5]
  • Sleep-boosting beverages – Cherry juice, chamomile tea, passionfruit tea, milk and water are the best drinks to boost your sleep.[6]

Relax your body with some stretching

You can do these simple stretches on your bed before you go to sleep:

Whichever your chronotype, we know for sure that getting a good nights sleep is the best way to make sure your brain is working well and you are at your best mentally and emotionally.

So now you have an excuse – to enjoy your rest and your bed as much as you enjoy work and play.

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Daniel Owen van Dommelen

Coder, Director, Writer, Human

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Last Updated on December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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