June 9, 2008 (Baltimore) -- College students who are "morning people" may have a higher chance of graduating near the top of their class.
In a study at a Texas university, early birds had an average grade point average (GPA) that was a full point higher than night owls: 3.5 vs. 2.5.
A standardized questionnaire was used to classify the students as morning or evening types.
The questionnaire gauges "whether you're a morning or evening person based on what time of day is best for you -- that is, if there were no constraints on your life, when would you go to bed and wake up; when are you most productive," says researcher Daniel J. Taylor, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of North Texas in Denton.
"What we found," he tells WebMD, "is that the more of a morning person you are, the more likely you are to have a higher GPA."
The results held true even after the researchers took into account other factors related to higher GPAs, such as verbal SAT scores and other standardized tests that measure academic ability.
The study involved 824 undergrads who were enrolled in psychology classes.
Why Early Birds Get the Grades
So why do morning people do so much better? One possibility is that it's "easier to get to your classes on time and study if you get up earlier," Taylor says.
And, if you go to bed early, you'll be less tempted to go out drinking "or engage in other activities that can have negative influences on academic performance," he says.
The findings open the possibility that "you may be able to improve your grades by making yourself more of a morning person," Taylor says.
One way to do that may be to try to get up a half-hour earlier one morning, stick with that schedule for three days or so, and then advance your schedule another 30 minutes, he says.