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Published June 13, 2012, 11:30 PM

Hot Topics | Study: morning people happier than night owls

Morning people aren’t chipper just as the sun is coming up; they are happier and more satisfied with life overall, a new study suggests.

By: Source: Today.NBC.com, INFORUM

Morning people aren’t chipper just as the sun is coming up; they are happier and more satisfied with life overall, a new study suggests.

Teenagers’ night owl tendencies fade as they age, and the study says this switch to a morning-focused schedule could be why older adults are happier than younger ones.

“Past research has suggested that morning-type people report feeling happier than evening-type people, and this research was only on young adults,” study researcher Renee Biss, a graduate student at the University of Toronto, told LiveScience.

The new study looked across the lifespan to see if the morning habits of older individuals contributed to their overall life outlook.

The researchers studied two populations: a group of 435 adults ages 17 to 38, and a group of 297 older adults, ages 59 to 79. Both groups filled out questionnaires about their emotional state, how healthy they feel and their preferred “time of day.”

By age 60, most people are morning types, the researchers found. Only about 7 percent of young adults are morning larks, but as the population ages, this switches – in the older years only about 7 percent of the population are still night owls.

“We found that older adults reported greater positive emotion than younger adults, and older adults were more likely to be morning-type people than younger adults,” Biss said. “The ‘morningness’ was associated with greater happiness emotions in both age groups.”

Morning-type people also tended to say they felt healthier than did night owls. The researchers said this could be because they are getting better sleep since they are naturally morning people. It could not only make them feel more alert, but actually impact their immune system.

“We don’t know why this is, but there are a few potential explanations. Evening people may be more prone to social jet lag; this means that their biological clock is out of sync with the social clock,” Biss said. “Society’s expectations are far more organized around a morning-type person’s schedule.”

What SheSays: Morning lark or night owl, you’re only as happy as you allow yourself to be. Don’t let studies like this be an excuse for unhappiness.

Are you a morning lark or night owl? Tell us on Facebook.com/forumshesays.

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