Good news, early risers!

By Meghan Overdeep
January 31, 2019
Female Morning Person
Credit: PeopleImages/Getty Images

Early birds don't just get the worm. According to a new study, they get a better chance of happiness too.

It turns out that being a morning person involves a lot more than a simple can-do attitude. New research has found that early-risers also possess genes that lower their risk of having schizophrenia and depression, at the same time increasing their overall well-being.

Jacqueline Lane, an instructor of medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital and author of the study published in Nature Communications, summed up her team's findings for Today. "Individuals who tend to be happier tend to be morning-type individuals," she explained.

Lane and her colleagues reached this conclusion after analyzing the genetic data from 250,000 23andMe users in the U.S. and 450,000 people enrolled in the U.K. Biobank study across the pond. Researchers identified those who reported being either a morning person or a night owl and then examined their genomes to see if there was a relationship between their genes, their preference for mornings or evenings preference and their overall health.

What they found is a correlation between night owls and mental illness, particularly schizophrenia and depression. Late-nighters were also found to be less happy overall.

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But don't sweat it too much, night owls. Lane confirmed that your circadian rhythm doesn't mean a you're guaranteed to experience depression, schizophrenia or unhappiness.

"It is incredibly complicated," she noted. "The genetics about being a night owl is only part of it."

Lane told Today that she believes more research still needs to be done in order to fully understand how genes impact morning or evening preference and mental health. But until that happens, we're putting another point in the early bird wins column!