If, like Batman baddie Bane, you feel most in your element in darkness, early risers can seem insufferable with their morning perkiness. But science suggests there are big benefits to finessing your internal clock and making the switch. With the right sleep gear, you can trigger a circadian reboot. More on this in a minute; but first, let’s delve into why you should care.
Those who are early to bed and early to rise are at reduced risk for major depression, per a 2021 study published in JAMA Psychiatry.
The researchers admit they haven’t nailed exactly why being a morning person is associated with better mental health, but one reason may be night owls’ lack of exposure to natural morning light, says Kristen Knutson, an associate professor at Northwestern University, who studies the association between sleep, circadian rhythms and cardiometabolic diseases.
Light promotes the production of chemicals in the brain that affect mood, but “morning light levels are particularly important for synchronizing our internal clocks,” Knutson explains. Every tissue in your body contains tiny biological clocks that react to external stimuli based on Earth’s 24-hour cycle. “Our thinking is that these circadian rhythms evolved to allow us to anticipate when to be active and when to sleep,” she explains. “If you’re not doing those behaviors at the anticipated time, there’s the potential for deleterious outcomes.”
Knutson’s own research, published in 2018 in Chronobiology International, found that early risers had a 10 percent decreased risk of dying from any cause compared to night owls; older studies linked a tendency to wake earlier with higher self-reported happiness and more proactive behaviors, like exercising.
That doesn’t mean you’re doomed if you like to stay up late, says Knutson. But “the problem comes when a night owl has to live in a morning person’s world.” If your circadian rhythm doesn’t match up with societal expectations (e.g., a 9-to-5 job), you have to be more diligent about avoiding other not-so-great health behaviors, like eating late at night, consuming too much caffeine and not getting enough sleep.
You might be genetically predisposed to function better in the morning or evening, says Knutson, but it is possible to change. People who became earlier risers reported being happier and less stressed, found a 2019 study published in the Journal of Sleep Medicine. If you’re ready to embrace the a.m., these products can help you fall asleep faster, sleep sounder and wake easier.
Eight Sleep Pod Pro Mattress
Your body temp drops when you sleep, so smart technology embedded in this mattress automatically adjusts the temp to keep you cool. In the morning, it gradually warms as chest-level vibrations soundlessly bring you out of dreamland.
[From $2,795; eightsleep.com]
Leave your phone in the living room. This analog clock stirs you with science-backed melodies that gently increase in volume and intensity over 30 seconds (it also shuffles songs daily so you don’t learn to tune them out).
This sunrise alarm, sound machine and meditation device mimics the gradual increase of morning light to sync with your circadian rhythm, rousing you 30 minutes before your alarm. It also sidelines as a sound machine and meditation app.