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June 13, 2012 — Morning people happier and healthier than night owls

by Christine Elias — Wednesday, Jun 13, 2012

A&S Staff

The early bird gets the worm and — according to a new University of Toronto study — is happier about it, too.

According to the lead author, U of T Ph.D. student Renee Biss, early risers are happier and healthier than people who like to stay up late.

Two groups of adults were studied — an older group aged 59 to 79 and a younger group in the 17-38 age range. Both groups filled out questionnaires about their daily routines, emotional state and overall feelings of healthiness.

Older adults, who are more likely to be morning people, reported greater positive emotion than their younger counterparts. Younger people with a rise and shine disposition also reported greater levels of positive emotion.

Why “morningness” might be associated with greater positive emotion in all age groups is related to the concept of “social jet lag” — the idea that people who tend to stay up later for work or play, develop sleep patterns that don’t mesh well with the typical 9 to 5 cycle of work or school.

The study found that the majority of people over 60 considered themselves a morning person, while only seven percent of younger people felt the same way. The researchers say that this gradual change in our internal time clocks could partially explain why older adults are generally happier.

The study was published in the June issue of the journal, Emotion.

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