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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 February 25, 2020

Face Adversity with a Smile

Face Adversity with a Smile

I told my friend Graham that I often cycle the two miles from my house to the town centre but unfortunately there is a big hill on the route. He replied, ‘You mean fortunately.’ He explained that I should be glad of the extra exercise that the hill provided.

My attitude to the hill has now changed. I used to grumble as I approached it but now I tell myself the following. This hill will exercise my heart and lungs. It will help me to lose weight and get fit. It will mean that I live longer. This hill is my friend. Finally as I wend my way up the incline I console myself with the thought of all those silly people who pay money to go to a gym and sit on stationery exercise bicycles when I can get the same value for free. I have a smug smile of satisfaction as I reach the top of the hill.

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Problems are there to be faced and overcome. We cannot achieve anything with an easy life. Helen Keller was the first deaf and blind person to gain a University degree. Her activism and writing proved inspirational. She wrote, “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experiences of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired and success achieved.”

One of the main determinants of success in life is our attitude towards adversity. From time to time we all face hardships, problems, accidents, afflictions and difficulties. Some are of our making but many confront us through no fault of our own. Whilst we cannot choose the adversity we can choose our attitude towards it.

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Douglas Bader was 21 when in 1931 he had both legs amputated following a flying accident. He was determined to fly again and went on to become one of the leading flying aces in the Battle of Britain with 22 aerial victories over the Germans. He was an inspiration to others during the war. He said, “Don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you can’t do this or that. That’s nonsense. Make up your mind, you’ll never use crutches or a stick, then have a go at everything. Go to school, join in all the games you can. Go anywhere you want to. But never, never let them persuade you that things are too difficult or impossible.”

How can you change your attitude towards the adversity that you face? Try these steps:

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  1. Confront the problem. Do not avoid it.
  2. Deliberately take a positive attitude and write down some benefits or advantages of the situation.
  3. Visualise how you will feel when you overcome this obstacle.
  4. Develop an action plan for how to tackle it.
  5. Smile and get cracking.

The biographies of great people are littered with examples of how they took these kinds of steps to overcome the difficulties they faced. The common thread is that they did not become defeatist or depressed. They chose their attitude. They opted to be positive. They took on the challenge. They won.

Featured photo credit: Jamie Brown via unsplash.com

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