Early birds may be more active, but night owls can catch up – Harvard Health Blog

Being an early bird has long been associated with a go-getter attitude. Early birds, or those who tend to wake early and go to bed early, are people who naturally feel sleepy earlier in the evening and naturally wake early in the morning. For an early bird type, a 9 pm bedtime may be the norm, and rising at 5 am without an alarm clock feels relatively effortless.

Our internal clock controls more than sleep patterns

Being an early bird, or the opposite night owl, is usually not something that is thought of as being highly under our control. Some people seem to be hardwired to sleep early, while others get a second wind and tend to sleep late. This internal clock is called our circadian rhythm, each person’s unique internal timekeeper and the body’s own master controller of many functions. Most obvious is our sleep patterns; however, our internal clock also plays a role in our hunger and eating patterns, hormone levels, and maybe even our mood.

Does being an early bird or night owl affect our health?

A growing body of research shows that we may want to pay more attention to circadian rhythm, also called our chronotype. Identifying if we’re more of an early bird or night owl may help predict our risk of potential health problems.

A recent study from the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports looked at whether the body clock is related to levels of physical activity. Using a wrist-based device that measures movement, over 5,000 participants’ activity levels were collected for two weeks. Researchers also identified whether each person was more of an early bird or night owl, based on a well-studied questionnaire. After considering some factors that may explain differences, such as education or background health conditions,

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