Are You a "Morning Person"? Watch Out

Are you a morning person?  Or a night owl?

A new study says something really fluky.  "Morning people," who reported greater alertness at sunrise, 'self-handicapped' more in the morning. "Night owls," who reported greater alertness at sunset, 'self-handicapped' more in the evening, according to

"Self-handicapping" is defined by psychologists as when an individual seeks to protect their ego against potential failure in advance by creating circumstances -- real or imagined -- that harm their ability to carry out a stressful task. A classic example is failing to study or staying out too late the night before an important test or job interview.

 Now, who hasn't done that?

Both my husband and I ended relationships early in our dating life because our mates were night owls.  He and I, morning people if there ever were morning people, couldn't hack the late-night parties and getting up at noon, so we eventually each split.  I remember trying to fall asleep on someone's bed as New Year's Eve rolled into 5 a.m. New Year's Day. (And waking up at at dusk, when I finally did get back to my own bed.)

The behavior also extends to mere claims of debilitating circumstances, such as imagined illness, fatigue or stress. Other studies have linked self-handicapping to other self-destructive behaviors, such as aggression, overeating and drug or alcohol addiction.

The study also found that people chronically prone to making excuses reported the same stress levels at "off-peak" hours as peers who do not engage in this behavior. Only at peak hours did these individuals report higher levels of stress as an excuse for poor performance.

"What this study tells us is that self-handicapping requires thought and planning," said Ed Hirt, professor in the Indiana University Bloomington College of Arts and Sciences' Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences and an author on the study. "People who are feeling uncertain about themselves and start to fear that they might fail are more likely to identify potential excuses and self-handicap when they’re at their peak than when they're not."

"When an individual's positive self-views are threatened, they may lash out against the source of the threat, compare themselves to others worse off than themselves, or engage in self-destructive actions, such as substance abuse," added Julie Eyink, a graduate student in Hirt's lab and lead author on the study. 
"Unfortunately, it's not uncommon to get caught in a negative spiral, in which self-handicapping leads to lower self-esteem and higher failure beliefs, which prompt more self-handicapping."

Another study found that 60% of those over 60% are morning people.   But overall, 56% at any age are night owls. Morning people are significantly less likely to have insomnia, or require more than eight hours of sleep per day, and less likely to suffer from depression than individuals who reported being “night owls”

Here's something I really liked.  Morning people have lower BMIs (sadly, not in my case!).  And it may all be in your DNA.

So, morning person or night owl, be aware of your "self-handicapping" behaviors.


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