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Night Owls Tend to Have Darker Personality Traits

Updated on September 7, 2013

Do you wake up energized, or grumpy?

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Wikimedia Commons: No Known Restrictions | Source

Quick Facts: Night Owl v Morning Lark

  • Night Owls eat more than Morning Larks
  • Night Owls are fatter than Morning Larks
  • Night Owls suffer more pain than Morning Larks
  • Morning Larks have a better memory than Night Owls
  • Morning Larks are more introverted than Night Owls
  • Night Owls have more sex than Morning Larks
  • Night Owls have a higher risk of cancer than Morning Larks
  • Night Owls are more likely to be depressed than Morning Larks
  • Night Owls are more likely to be psychopathic personality types than Morning Larks
  • Night Owls also have more Machiavellian cunning and narcissism than Morning Larks
  • Night Owls have been found to be smarter and wiser than Morning Larks
  • Night Owls make more money than Morning Larks
  • Morning Larks do better at school than Night Owls
  • Morning Larks feel healthier than Night Owls
  • Morning Larks are happier than Night owls

Mornings or Evenings? And does it matter?

Does a screeching alarm wake you up every morning? You hit the snooze button over and over and have to drag yourself out of bed and grab a coffee hit to kick start your day. Do you have trouble going to sleep in the evenings? You often end up staying up late even though you have to get to work in the morning. If this is you, you may be a Night Owl.

Do you wake up before your alarm and go and enjoy the sunrise as you eagerly contemplate the coming day? You fade and become an intellectual vegetable after the evening meal, falling asleep on the couch. You often miss the end of whatever TV show is one because you are just too sleepy to stay up. If you have to be in bed before 10pm because you just can't stay up any longer you might be a Morning Lark.

Or are you somewhere in between the Morning Lark and the Night Owl? Most of us of are. We are quite comfortable somewhere in between the two extremes.

It may not really matter which extreme we are, if any. However, what if you could change the traits you have by changing your sleeping patterns?

It has been found that the time of day where we are most active correlates to certain personality traits.

Morning Larks are:

  • more likely to be logical and analytical
  • more likely to use concrete information as sources of knowledge

Night Owls are:

  • more imaginative and intuitive
  • more creative

But what if it is the other way around? Perhaps we could become more creative by staying up at night or more analytical by getting up early. Is it the chicken or the egg?

Are you always sleepy during the day time? Only feel alert at night?

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Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licence | Source

How to Sleep Better

Sound Sleep, Sound Mind: 7 Keys to Sleeping through the Night
Sound Sleep, Sound Mind: 7 Keys to Sleeping through the Night

Sound Sleep, Sound Mind is the first book of its kind to focus on all the causes—mental, emotional, and physical—that contribute to insomnia and poor sleep. Based on cutting-edge knowledge and research, this book explains why sleep problems are almost always a mind and body issue. It then guides you through the seven steps of Sleep Dynamic Therapy to identify and treat the specific problems that are at the root of your sleeplessness.


What is your Sleep Chronotype?

Your sleep chronotype is when your body attains its highest levels of cognitive and metabolic functioning. Morning Larks have a morning sleep chronotypes while Night owls have evening sleep chronotypes.

This is biologically determined - we are genetically programmed to have specific predispositions to particular times of the day. Our Circadian Rhythms and our sleeping patterns are hardwired into our biology. They are not just personal preferences. They can be altered and sometimes they change without intervention.

Interestingly, some people have a lifelong tendency to be either a Night Owl or a Morning Lark while others change over time. It not that uncommon to start out as a Night Owl in your teenage years and then become a Morning Lark as an adult. If this is you, it is also possible that you had a sleep disorder which you recovered from.

Morning Lark v Night Owl

Sleep Disorders

Famous Morning Larks

  • Benjamin Franklin
  • Tim Cook
  • Robert Iger
  • Anna Wintour
  • Woody Allen
  • Beethoven

Famous Night Owls

  • Adolf Hitler - he definitely had dark personality traits!
  • Josef Stalin - another dark personality
  • Bill Clinton - certainly an interesting personality
  • Sir Winston Churchill - used his dark traits for the forces of good and not evil!
  • Elvis Presley
  • Barack Obama
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • James Joyce
  • Thomas Edison

Sleep Disorder

Some Night Owls have sleep disorders.

Delayed sleep phase disorder or syndrome (DPSD) is a circadian rhythm sleep disorder that disrupts the timing of sleep, peak daily alertness, core body temperature cycles, and even hormonal routines. (Ever wondered why you get night sweats? Maybe your circadian rhythms are out of whack.)Those who suffer from DPSD can often only fall asleep after midnight and have huge problems waking up in the morning. Sounds like the average teenager, right?

While having DPSD doesn't mean you can't get enough sleep, it does mean you can't get up in the morning, making it hard to work normal hours. When the person with DPSD is left to their own devices, say sleeping from 4 am to 2pm, they are not sleepy or grumpy and can function quite well.

DSPD often comes on in early childhood or the teenage years. Sometimes it resolved with adulthood, but often it is a lifelong condition. About 3 in 2000 have it. It has been genetically linked to ADHD. The treatment for delayed sleep disorder is light therapy. It may or may not work.

Night Owls have Dark Personality Traits

A recent study has found Night Owls are more likely to exhibit personality traits linked to the "Dark Triad" of personality traits – Machiavellianism, narcissism and psychopathy. An expert in psychology at the University of Western Sydney, Dr Peter Jonason, said "those who have a night-time chronotype have darker personalities and these are related to promiscuity, mate poaching, psychological dysfunction, for example depression, sensitivity to rewards, dishonesty, and likely a boom and bust work pattern”.

Dr Jonason and his colleagues surveyed 263 students, testing them for the Dark Triad traits. The study showed that the subjects with darker personality traits said that they were more effective in the evening than the morning.

Those who stayed up later tended to display traits including an attitude of entitlement and they seemed to be more exploitative in nature. There was no evidence that the darker traits were gender based.

Scary stuff!

Not into Sunrise?

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Wikimedia Commons: Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license. | Source

Are you a Night Owl or a Morning Lark?

Are you a Night Owl or a Morning Lark?

See results

The World is on Work Time

Most of us don't really get to say when we sleep. Often the boss does. Mostly the world is geared towards the Morning Lark. Most people have to get up, get going and get productive in the mornings. This is pretty hard to do without enough sleep.

Have you been in trouble at work for being late or ineffective in the mornings? Or for having a poor attitude at work in the mornings? Or do you know someone like that?

Night Owls cannot help being grumpy and slow in the mornings. And when they try to catch up on sleep on the weekends by sleeping in, they are only making things worse.

The hormone melatonin regulates sleep. Melatonin suppression is is triggered by light. The more light you get at the right times, the less Melatonin you produce. So without that bright morning light, it's hard not to be grumpy and sleepy!

Morning Larks have higher levels of the hormone cortisol in the mornings. Cortisol increases blood sugar among other tings and will make people feel more alert. A Morning Lark's core body temperature will be lower in the morning, and then it will peaks in the late afternoon, heading back down again until it is time for bed. A Morning Lark has a peak in body temperature in the afternoon. For Night Owls, the peak body temperature occurs in the evenings.

Try to become a day time owl!

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Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic Licence | Source

Light Therapy

Chronotherapy: Resetting Your Inner Clock to Boost Mood, Alertness, and Quality Sleep
Chronotherapy: Resetting Your Inner Clock to Boost Mood, Alertness, and Quality Sleep

A good night's sleep can be hard to get. Sleep problems and depressed mood often go hand in hand, forming a frustrating cycle. Only now are we beginning to understand the way these problems are based in the working of the brain's inner clock, through the science of chronobiology--the study of circadian rhythms and their regulation by light and darkness.


How to Try to Re-wire your Body Clock

Here are some tips to try to turn yourself around if you are sick of being late for work:

  • Turn off the lights! Do not do things that involve bright lights at night - no texting, surfing or reading your iPad if you want to be able to get to sleep.
  • Limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption
  • Have more sex
  • Get a set routine going and stick to it

If you can't change yourself to fit in with work - think about changing your work. Maybe what you need to be doing is night shift in stead of trying to fit into day shift. Consider a medically related or aviation career. Policing or other emergency work. Maybe you know some other industries where shift work is the norm? Let me know.


  • The dark side of being a night owl, Melissa Shedden, August 28 2013,
  • Wikipedia
  • Night owls more likely to have Dark Triad of personality traits, Richard Grey, 26 August 2013:
  • The Truth Behind Night Owls and Morning People, Brie Cadman,
  • Night owls are wealthier and wiser than larks, study finds, Ben Bryant, 25 March 2013:
  • 23 Successful People Who Wake Up Really Early, Eric Goldschein and Gus Lubin, 11 January 2013:

© 2013 Mel Jay


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    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      So interesting and such a great insight here.

    • SarahLMaguire profile image

      SarahLMaguire 4 years ago from UK

      Interesting stuff!

      I am definitely a night owl, though I hope I don't have the dark personality traits to go with it. I can get up and function early in the day when I have to but I usually feel my mind is at it's best and most creative later in the evening. I find being a night owl goes well with writing - quiet, uninterrupted hours in which to focus.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      I know what you mean. I've been working a lot of overtime lately myself, which has limited my writing time. Nice to hear from you.

    • Mel Jay profile image

      Mel Jay 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks Mel, like you my job has been wearing me out lately. I suspect that the world of work forces us all to comply to timing that perhaps we wouldn't have if we didn't have to work. Thanks for visiting, Cheers - Mel.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      Extremely interesting hub. Haven't seen you on hub pages in a couple weeks Mel Jay and I am pleased you are still here and obviously on top of your game. I think I have night owl tendencies but my job wears me out and now I turn in early. Fantastic hub!

    • Mel Jay profile image

      Mel Jay 4 years ago from Australia

      Thanks for stopping by pstraubie48. I Hope your day is great too! Cheers. Mel

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 4 years ago from sunny Florida

      Interesting sharing. I am a morning lark for sure. I get up ready to rock and roll every day. The earlier I get up the not want to miss one minute of another fabulous day.

      Have a lovely day.

      Angels are on the way ps