What does it mean to be an early riser?

What does it mean to be an early riser?

You have always known that you are a morning person. As soon as the alarm clock rings, you are ready to face the world. You have a morningness chronotype but do you really know what it means?


By Julianne Thimoléon

You have never been afraid of the alarm clock. You tend not to put off the alarm clock indefinitely. When it rings, it rings! You are an early riser, which means that according to your biological clock, your energy peaks at the beginning of the day. On average, 25% of the world's population are night owls and 25% are morning people[1] (like you). The other half? Those lucky ones who can adapt to any bedtime...


Here we go to find out all about the morning chronotype, the good practices to have and the advice to make the most of it.



First step: understanding your chronotype



What is a chronotype?


Early risers, late-nighters... We all have our own sleep habits and preferences. All this is set to music by our biological clock based on a circadian rhythm, i.e., a cyclical rhythm of about 24 hours. This is called the chronotype: the way in which our energy peaks are regulated according to the time of day.


  • Some people (like you) have a morningness chronotype: more comfortable waking up early and more productive at the beginning of the day, they have difficulties staying up late in the evening.


  • Others have an eveningness chronotype: they are used to getting up and going to bed late, are often tired when they wake up and have their peak energy at the end of the day.


  • And others have an intermediate (or "neutral") chronotype: these people are just as comfortable waking up early as late and do not suffer from changes in habit.


There are many factors influencing your circadian rhythm and therefore determining your chronotype. 



How to be an early bird?


Good news! The lifestyle of our Western societies is particularly suited to the sleep needs of morningness chronotypes. Author Tracey Larks reminds us that "our bodies are designed to be awake when it's light outside and asleep when it's dark"[2]. That is probably why according to the saying, "the future belongs to those who prepare themselves to it"!


Understanding your chronotype allows you to evaluate the time periods when you perform best and the melatonin peaks. What is melatonin? Melatonin is a hormone structuring the biological clock and thus regulating sleepiness. The more darkness there is, the more it is secreted in the brain... And the sleepier we are!


According to this study[3], morning subjects like you are at their most productive around 1:18 pm and experience their peak sleepiness around 3:52 am. Their melatonin level is at its highest at around 4.20 am (i.e., in the middle of the night), whereas evening subjects have their melatonin peak at around 6.20 am, i.e., shortly before the light reappears.



What are the advantages of being an early riser?


Be happier:

It has long been known that sunlight is good for morale. Early risers benefit from longer exposure to daylight, which influences their ability to be more optimistic, clear-headed, and positive than evening subjects. The study,[4] conducted by researchers in Toronto, surveyed several groups of adults of different ages: one aged 17 to 38 and the other aged 59 to 79. The researchers asked them to answer a questionnaire on their emotional states according to the time of day. Early risers, who were more present in the older group, showed more happiness than the others. The researchers explain that this is due, among other things, to the rhythm imposed by our society, which is easier to maintain when you are an early riser.




Best student:

Speaking of society, let us not kid ourselves: early risers are still much more highly regarded than late-nighters. Whether at school or at work, being a morning person will help you to be punctual, focused, and productive from the start of the day. Values that are widely praised by our superiors. Beyond the image that this conveys, being early in the morning has an impact on cognitive abilities, motivation and even ambition! Everything you need to succeed...



Less risk of depression:

By having more difficulty keeping up with the circadian rhythm, night owls are also more likely to miss the social events necessary for good mental health.

For example, night owls are less likely to be involved in solid and fulfilling love affairs than early risers. They are even more likely to be single, according to this study[5]. Indeed, the night owl's life is synonymous with peaks in cortisone-testosterone, which are hormones associated with risk-taking. Night owls therefore tend to multiply their sexual relationships and have difficulties with commitment and taking responsibility in the long term.



Less likely to be overweight:

Spending more time in the light can be good for your BMI (Body Mass Index)! A study from North-western University tells us so. People who take advantage of sun exposure in the morning have a lower BMI than people who spend more time in the sun later in the day. Dr. Phyllis C. Zee Phyllis C. Zee stated in Sciencedaily.com that "light is the most potent agent to synchronize your internal clock, that regulates circadian rhythms. Which in turn also regulate energy balance. If you do not get sufficient light at the appropriate time of day, it could de-synchronise your internal clock, which is known to alter metabolism and can lead to weight gain.




These are all good reasons to exploit your morningness chronotype. Although, as you might expect, there are no good or bad chronotypes. There is no need to compete with the advantages of your neighbour's chronotype, the important thing is to understand your own and optimise your lifestyle according to its characteristics.


Share the online questionnaire with your friends and family to find out their chronotype and understand how they work! Do you have questions about your sleep? Write to us here.


[1] The epidemiology of morningness/eveningness: influence of age, gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic factors in adults (30-49 years), Sarah-Jane Paine, Philippa H Gander, Noemie Travier

[2]Master your sleep, by Tracey Larks

[3] study by Lack, Bailey, Lovato and Wright (2009)

[4]  Study conducted by Renée Bliss: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/221810171_Happy_as_a_Lark_Morning-Type_Younger_and_Older_Adults_Are_Higher_in_Positive_Affect

[5] https://psycnet.apa.org/record/2014-36171-010

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