If you’re someone who is a self-confessed night owl though, it might not be as easy as simply setting the alarm. Scientists found that the time you wake up in the morning is very much baked into your DNA and can be incredibly tough to change. According to a study conducted by the University of Exeter, there are 351 genetic variants that determine waking time. Those with early-riser genetic profiles were 8 per cent less depressed than others.
As O’Loughlin explained, “We found that people who were misaligned from their natural body clock were more likely to report depression, anxiety and have lower wellbeing. We also found the most robust evidence yet that being a morning person is protective of depression and improves wellbeing.” She added, “We think this could be explained by the fact that the demands of society mean night owls are more likely to defy their natural body clocks, by having to wake up early for work.”
So, while morning people tend to be generally happier, it also goes without saying that as a society, perhaps we need to do more to protect those who simply can’t wake up earlier. And as Covid-19 has forced more of us to work from home, it might just be the case that working conditions can become more flexible and tailored to the individual. As Jessica Tyrrell, of the University of Exeter, explained: “The Covid-19 pandemic has introduced a new flexibility in working patterns for many people. Our research indicates that aligning working schedules to an individual’s natural body clock may improve mental health and wellbeing in night owls.”