Are You A "Godless Owl" Or A "Devout Lark"?

New research finds a surprising relationship between morning people's levels of life satisfaction, conscientiousness, and overall belief in God.

Russell is a Science Writer with IFLScience and has a PhD in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology

Dr. Russell Moul

Russell is a Science Writer with IFLScience and has a PhD in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology

Dr. Russell Moul

Science Writer

Russell is a Science Writer with IFLScience and has a PhD in the History of Science, Medicine and Technology.

Science Writer

A woman's arm clutching a cup of coffee appears from under a yellow blanket.

Morning lark or night owl? The answer to this question may say much more about you than just your preference for bedtime. 

Image credit: shapovalphoto/

Are you someone who likes to rise with the morning sun – a lark – or are you a night owl who prefers to stay up late? Or perhaps you are like most of the population who fall somewhere between the two. Well, new research suggests that there may be a relationship between morning people, their levels of life satisfaction and conscientiousness, and their overall religiosity. 

“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise”, so the old saying goes. The “early bird”, as we know, is also meant to be the one who “catches the worm”. These are two well-known sayings that promote the benefits of being a “morning person”. But in Poland there is another proverb that adds an additional dimension of divine blessings to these adages - “the one who gets up early, gets rewarded by God”. 


Now a team of researchers at the Faculty of Psychology at the University of Warsaw, Poland, have put the folk wisdom of these sayings to empirical scrutiny, by testing the relationship between chronotype (whether you’re a morning or evening person), conscientiousness, life satisfaction, and one’s level of religious belief. 

There have been many studies into chronotype that have explored associations with the timing of sleep or waking up and various other physical and psychological factors, such as cognitive ability, emotional functioning, emotional intelligence, and more. 

Some of this previous work has established that “morning people” tend to have higher life satisfaction and to be more conscientious. At the same time, other research has shown that being religious is also associated with higher life satisfaction and conscientiousness. In fact, a longitudinal study found that the levels of conscientiousness expressed in adolescence could predict higher religiosity later in life. 

“[C]onsidering the nexus between conscientiousness, religiosity, and well-being” Joanna Gorgol and colleagues wrote in their study, “there are reasons to believe that religiosity could serve as yet another mediator of the relationship between chronotype and satisfaction in life.”


To test this, the team conducted two survey-based analyses of Polish people aged between 18 and 71; one study involved 500 participants while the other involved 728. Each group was asked to complete a Polish adaptation of the Composite Morningness Questionnaire, a self-assessment that determines morningness-eveningness in human circadian rhythms, as well as a questionnaire on their life satisfaction and their level of conscientiousness (assessed through the International Personality Item Pool Big Five questionnaire).  

In addition, one group was asked about their belief in God and the other about their general levels of religiosity. 

The results affirmed the previously established associations between higher conscientiousness and life satisfaction, while also suggesting that being religious is more common among morning people. The results suggested that a higher level of religious belief among the larks could statistically account for this relationship with morningness and higher life satisfaction, which itself appears to be statistically influenced by conscientiousness. 

So the findings indicate that morning people are often more conscientious, which makes them more likely to be religious, which in turn may contribute to their overall experience of satisfaction in their lives. However, the team stressed that they could not confirm any causal relationship between these factors. 


Moreover, as the results came from self-reporting information, there is always the possibility of bias, especially social desirability bias. Importantly, further research would need to take a broader cross-cultural approach, as different people may have different understandings of time, as well as cultural ideas about religiosity and its relationship with other psychological factors. 

Nevertheless, the authors conclude that “our current results show that the link between morningness-eveningness and life satisfaction is partly mediated by religiosity, which, in turn, is partly mediated by conscientiousness. It means that more morning-oriented individuals may benefit from higher psychological well-being thanks to both personality characteristics and attitudes towards religion.”

The study is published in PLOS ONE


  • tag
  • psychology,

  • sleep,

  • religion,

  • circadian clock,

  • chronotype,

  • night owl,

  • morning larks