According to a study in the Harvard Business Review, early risers—also known as “early birds”—are more productive than those who stay up late at night (so-called “night owls”).
The study, which involved 367 participants, found that those who stay up later experience decreased levels of productivity and higher levels of distraction.
Even though previous evidence showed that night owls may have higher IQs overall, early risers are likely to have overall grades that are about 8% better than those who are not early risers. This could potentially be explained by the fact that much of traditional test taking occurs in the morning or a fair amount before noon.
Research has also found that those who are up earlier demonstrate overall happier moods, lower depression levels, and more motivation. A study from Finland even showed that those who stayed up later were ultimately more likely to end up abusing alcohol and tobacco, sometimes even taking antidepressants.
Late-night work has often been linked to increased reflection, greater lack of focus, and an increased inability to concentrate. Whereas some people simply can’t get to all their tasks until the sun goes down, the research indicates that it’s probably better for those who are able to wake up early to make use of their morning productivity levels—something that quickly fades as the day goes on.
The reason for this could very well be the increased amount of communication that occurs after the morning passes. When more people are awake—and we all remain as interconnected as we do in today’s technology-driven, social media world—then we’re more likely to want to engage in social activity, talk with others, or simply scroll through our newsfeeds looking for the next update.
In the morning, however, not enough of our day has passed by yet to be sufficiently distracted by others around us. We are instead able to focus on each singular task at hand one at a time.
So, if you’re an early riser, consider yourself lucky. You’re already getting a head start to your day—and the success you have worked so hard to achieve, in both your work and your life.