Early Risers Less Likely to Develop Mental Health Problems


A study has found that people who are genetically programmed to wake up early are less likely to suffer from mental health issues than those who are ‘night owls’.

The study found links between sleeping patterns and depression, happiness and schizophrenia.

Sleep/wake cycle

The circadian rhythm is the 24-hour cycle that determines our sleep and eating patterns. It dictates how tired or energised we feel at what time of day.

Everyone has a different sleep/wake cycle, with some people being classed as morning people, or ‘larks’, and some classed as evening people, or ‘night owls’.

Larks or owls

A new study by the University of Exeter looked at data on the genetics of 700,000 people, and asked those people whether they were a ‘morning person’ or an ‘evening person’. They also compared this genetic analysis with data from wearable activity trackers worn by 85,000 people.

The results of the analysis showed that being a morning person was linked to a lower risk of schizophrenia. People who are ‘night owls’ were found to be around 10% more likely to develop the condition.

There was also evidence that being a morning person decreased the chance of someone suffering from depression, and increased their chance of having a greater sense of well-being and happiness.

Mental toll

The researchers believe the reason behind the higher risk of mental health issues in evening people is the mental toll that having to fight their natural body clock takes, for example to have to start work early.

Lead researcher Samuel Jones explained: “Our work indicates that part of the reason why some people are up with the lark while others are night owls is because of differences in both the way our brains react to external light signals and the normal functioning of our internal clocks.

“These small differences may have potentially significant effects on the ability of our body clocks to keep time effectively, potentially altering risk of both disease and mental health disorders.”

Diabetes link

A previous study by Northumbria University found that night owls may have a higher risk of suffering from heart disease and type 2 diabetes than early risers. This, the study claimed, could be to do with people having more erratic eating patterns and eating more unhealthy foods.

However, the current study did not find any link between people’s sleeping habits and their risk of diabetes or obesity.


This article was written by a third party source and does not reflect the views or opinions of Ramsay Health Care unless explicitly stated.

Additional comments on the page from individual Consultants do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of other Consultants or Ramsay Health Care.

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