Night Owls

Six Differences Between Early Birds and Night Owls

Bedtime isn’t the only area in which early birds and night owls differ.

One study found that early birds may be more persistent, whereas night owls are more extravagant and keen to explore the unknown.

How else are early risers and evening people different?

1. Decision-making styles

Night owls can be more spontaneous in their decision-making than morning people, who might be more prone to deliberating. In a study of more than 500 adults published in the journal Biological Rhythm Research, scientists in Italy found that night owls either did not think much before deciding what to do or avoided making decisions altogether—a pattern that was not present in morning people.

2. Favorite media

Morning people seem to prefer getting their news through more traditional channels, for instance by watching TV or reading a newspaper. Night owls, on the other hand, are more likely to watch and read news online, research suggests. Scientists think this is because night owls are ahead of others when it comes to using new technologies.

3. Test performance

Night owls may have an edge over morning people in some math tests. Scientists at the University of Chicago looked at GMAT scores among more than 200 students. (GMAT is a math test used in admission to MBA programs.) They found that night owls generally scored higher on the GMAT than early risers. But this doesn’t mean that morning people are less smart. The same study showed that students’ GPAs were not affected by their sleep and wake patterns.

4. DNA

Whether you go to bed late or get up at the crack of dawn may be in your genes. Some research suggests that there might be genetic differences between larks and night owls. In a study published in the journal Nature Communications, scientists found that having certain genetic variants was linked to a higher chance of being an early riser.

5. Eating habits

Night owls don’t just prefer to go to sleep later—they also eat dinner later than early risers, research suggests. This pattern seems to persist both during the week and on weekends. Night owls also tend to eat fewer and larger meals throughout the day compared with morning people, according to the same study.

6. Sleep disorder risks

Night owls have a greater risk of sleep apnea. Symptoms include snoring and breathing pauses. In a study of 119 people published in the journal PLOS ONE, researchers found that evening types were twice as likely to have the condition than morning people. They also had higher levels of stress hormones.

Which are you? Share with your friends and see how you all stack up.