Here’s What Science Says About Early Risers and Night Owls

You may be better off bucking the labels.

Our sleep-wake schedules are often put in black and white terms: Either you rise with the sun or stay up into the wee hours. New research in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology shows that not only do those strict labels miss most people’s schedules, but where you fall on the early riser to night owl spectrum may say something about your personality.

Researchers from the City University of New York analyzed data from 16,647 people to investigate how “morningness” and “eveningness” — i.e. the tendency to be an early riser or to love staying up late — are linked to the Big Five personality traits: conscientiousness, extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness and openness to experience.

The researchers found that night owls tend to be less conscientious than their early-morning counterparts, as Science of Us explained in a piece about the findings. Evening people also had “moderate links” to extraversion and openness, which may be because staying up later gives them “more opportunities to socialize,” CUNY psychologist and study author Anastasiya Lipnevich told Science of Us.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Most surprisingly, the researchers found that 70 to 80 percent of people exhibit both early riser and night owl tendencies and only 10 to 15 percent of people fit squarely within the morning or evening person criteria, according to Lipnevich. Our preference for mornings or evenings can also change throughout our lives. Children and people over fifty are mostly morningful, while eveningness peaks around age 20.

The findings reveal an interesting point about our daily routines. Most of us don’t fit in the much-touted “morning person” mold, and forcing yourself into it likely won’t get you far. If you really want to reach your peak performance, consider listening to your body instead and following your own natural rhythms.

Read more on Science of Us.