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Night owls not as happy as early bird peers

Early birds greet the morning with a smile while night owls hit the snooze button. A new study suggests morning people are happier and feel healthier. (Thinkstock)

Lacey Mason, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – It turns out the chipper mood of “morning people” is real, and on top of being happier, they feel healthier too.

This is according to a new report from LiveScience on a University of Toronto study that researched the habits of more than 700 people.

The study subjects came from two categories: 435 young adults between the ages of 17 and 38 and 297 older adults aged 59 to 79.

The study found that by age 60 most people are “morning people” but only 7 percent of young adults prefer the morning. As they age, the number flips entirely, and 7 percent of older adults prefer the evening.

Additionally, those with a night-time schedule may also suffer from “social jet lag.”

“Evening people may be more prone to social jet lag; this means that their biological clock is out of sync with the social clock,” Renee Biss, a graduate student at the University of Toronto told LiveScience. “Society’s expectations are far more organized around a morning-type person’s schedule.”

Additionally, a new study published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine found that women who work a night shift are more prone to breast cancer.

The Danish study collected data about 18,500 women from 1964 to 1999. The survey found that the risk of breast cancer increased by 40 percent for women who worked at night.

Three other small studies also indicated that men may be at increased risk for prostate cancer when working the night shift.

Biss told LiveScience that there are ways a person can turn themselves into a morning person.

“One way to do it is to increase your natural light exposure early in the morning and to wake up earlier and go to bed earlier It’s easiest if you have a consistent schedule, to make sure you are waking up at the same time every day,” Bliss says.

Not everyone can become a morning person — especially those who regularly work evening shifts. But there are ways to help live a happier, healthy life while keeping a night-owl’s schedule.

WebMd says, if it’s daylight when a night-shift worker gets off work, sunglasses may help the body recognize that it’s the end of the day and not the beginning.

Using blackout blinds for a sunny room will help the body, and mind, fall asleep.

Additionally, stopping to run errands can confuse the body further.

If waking up as the sun goes down, or when it’s dark outside, lamps that mimic daylight can help balance circadian rhythms. These also can be used at work and help train the body’s internal clock to adjust.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)


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