A common New Year’s resolution is to “get up earlier.” The resolution is treated as a positive change in lifestyle, similar to “eat more healthy” and “get more exercise.” There is a huge difference, though. Eating healthier and exercising more frequently improve your health. Rising earlier than you’re already rising, by contrast, raises your risk of heart disease and early death.
The 2017 Nobel Prize for Medicine was awarded to three scientists who discovered the molecular mechanism inside the brain that determines one’s natural sleep schedule. This mechanism expresses itself according to your genetics. As a result, humans (like all animals that sleep) have a circadian rhythm that determines when your brain wants to sleep.
About 10 percent of humans (early birds) have a circadian rhythm that makes them want to rise before dawn; about 20 percent of humans (night owls) have a circadian rhythm that makes them want to wake long after sunrise. It has nothing to do with willpower or moral superiority; your genes tell you when you want to sleep.