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The time of day you like to wake up can have a big influence on your outlook on life, a new study confirms.

Previous research has suggested that morning people, or early risers, tend to feel happier and healthier than late sleepers.

Most of these studies were conducted on young people and teens who tend to sleep in late, because of the biological changes that accompany adolescence. So Lynn Hasher, a senior scientist at Baycrest's Rotman Research Institute in Toronto, and Renee Biss, a graduate student at the University of Toronto, set out to determine if wake time influences the mood of older adults.

For the study, they recruited 297 healthy older adults (aged 59 to 79) and 435 healthy young adults (aged 17 to 38). The volunteers were asked to complete a detailed questionnaire about their sleep habits and their feelings.

The analysis revealed that a majority of older adults are early birds: 57 per cent of them identified as a morning type, compared to only 7 per cent of the younger people, according to the findings published in the journal Emotion.

Regardless of whether a person was old or young, waking up early was associated with a rosier disposition. "The earlier risers reported feeling more positive emotions compared to the night owls," noted Ms. Biss.

The researchers aren't sure why wake time affects mood, but they suspect it might be related to the total amount of sunlight exposure. Ms. Biss noted that some people develop Seasonal Affective Disorder during winter months when the days are short and the nights are long.

"Early-morning risers are getting natural light exposure early in the day, and it could be making them feel better throughout the year," she said.

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