‘Night owls’ earn 4% LESS than early risers, study finds


  • Scientists have discovered a link between circadian rhythm and income levels
  • People who are more active in the evening tend to earn less than early risers 

Night owls tend to stay up late while early birds are the first awake.

But that’s not the only difference between the two – as research suggests those who burn the midnight oil are likely to earn less.

Scientists have discovered a link between circadian rhythm – the body’s internal clock – and income levels.

According to the findings, individuals who tend to be more active in the evening also tend to exhibit characteristics that are linked with earning less.

A team from the University of Oulu in Finland analysed data on 12,000 people, collecting information on their education, work experience, lifestyle choices and health.

Night owls tend to stay up late while early birds are the first awake. But that's not the only difference between the two – as research suggests those who burn the midnight oil are likely to earn less (stock image)

Night owls tend to stay up late while early birds are the first awake. But that’s not the only difference between the two – as research suggests those who burn the midnight oil are likely to earn less (stock image)

They discovered night owls tended to exhibit more ‘bad’ characteristics such as drinking more alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, high BMI, an unhealthy diet and longer screen time.

And this was linked to lower levels of income in middle age, they said.

Among men, the negative influence of being a night owl – also known as having an ‘evening chronotype’ – was linked to a four per cent lower average annual income.

This is the equivalent of a person earning £48,000 ($58,000) per year compared to £50,000 ($61,000).

Dr Andrew Conlin, who worked on the study, said: ‘Evening chronotypes tend to accumulate less human, social and health capital.

Night owls tend to exhibit more 'bad' characteristics such as drinking more alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, high BMI, an unhealthy diet and longer screen time (stock image)

Night owls tend to exhibit more ‘bad’ characteristics such as drinking more alcohol, smoking, lack of exercise, high BMI, an unhealthy diet and longer screen time (stock image)

‘On average, accruing less work experience and making poorer choices regarding healthy lifestyle are associated with lower levels of income in middle age.’

The team said their findings emphasise the importance of recognising and accommodating individuals’ chronotypes in the workplace.

Since night owls are more active and alert in the evenings, they tend to have sleep problems and may not be working during their most productive period of the day, they added.

The study, published in the journal Economics and Human Biology, said: ‘Evening-type individuals could likely earn higher wages through better lifestyle choices.’

ABOUT CIRCIDIAN RHYTHMS

Our internal circadian rhythms, or circadian clock, is responsible for waking our bodies up in the morning and ensuring they get a good night’s rest.

In a healthy person, cortisol levels peak at around 8am, which wakes us up (in theory), and drop to their lowest at 3am the next day, before rising back to its peak five hours later.

Ideally, this 8am peak will be triggered by exposure to sunlight, if not an alarm. When it does, the adrenal glands and brain will start pumping adrenaline. 

By mid-morning, the cortisol levels start dropping, while the adrenaline (for energy) and serotonin (a mood stabilizer) keep pumping. 

At midday, metabolism and core body temperature ramp up, getting us hungry and ready to eat.

After noon, cortisol levels start their steady decline. Metabolism slows down and tiredness sets in. 

Gradually the serotonin turns into melatonin, which induces sleepiness. 

Our blood sugar levels decrease, and at 3am, when we are in the middle of our sleep, cortisol levels hit a 24-hour low.



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