People who get up earlier in the morning are the happiest, according to a new study which appears to prove the old saying that the “early bid catches the worm”.
Researchers concluded that early risers were generally healthier and more satisfied with their lives compared to “night owls” because they found it easier to adapt to life's "schedule".
Scientists at the University of Toronto found people who preferred the evening were more prone to “social jet lag”, in which a person’s biological clock was "out of sync” with the social activities.
As a result “morning-type” people, known as “larks”, often felt more awake, alert, happier and more motivated to tackle challenges while also boosting their immune system. Their study, published in the journal Emotion, found that most people abandoned the nocturnal habits of their youth, and became early risers the older they got.
Renee Biss, who led the study, told The Daily Telegraph that the findings showed for the first time that “older” adults reported higher levels of positive feeling, the earlier they got up.
Previous studies that have suggested that younger “morning-type" people were happier than their "evening-type" counterparts.
"What I found most interesting about our results was that they suggest that older adults’ greater morningness tendencies partially contribute to their better moods relative to young adults," said Miss Biss, a PhD student in the university’s Department of Psychology.
"Thus, morning type people reported feeling happier than evening type people, whether they were young or old, and our results suggest the shift towards morningness with age may have positive emotional benefit."
“Evening people may be more prone to social jet lag; this means that their biological clock is out of sync with the social clock."
She added: "One reason why 'early risers' may be happier is because their biological clocks are more in line with societal expectations about when someone should wake up and go to sleep.
"An evening person who prefers to wake up at 11:00am will have a much more difficult time following the typical 9-to-5 schedule compared to a morning person who naturally likes to wake up around 7:00am.
"This evening person may go through their week feeling tired and unhappy as a result."
The researchers studied two population groups: one of 435 adults aged 17 to 38 and another comprising of nearly 300 older volunteers, aged 59 to 79. Both groups were required to fill out questionnaires about their emotional state, how healthy they feel and their preferred "time of day."
By age 60, most people were morning types, the researchers found with less than one in 10 young adults considered “morning larks”.
As they aged, the researchers noticed the statistics switched, with only about seven per cent of the population still “night owls”. "We found that older adults reported greater positive emotion than younger adults," she said. "Older adults were also more likely to be morning types.