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Biol Psychol. 2006 May;72(2):141-6. Epub 2005 Oct 19.

Morningness and eveningness: the free cortisol rise after awakening in "early birds" and "night owls".

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Department of Clinical and Theoretical Psychobiology, University of Trier, Johanniterufer 15, D-54290 Trier, Germany.


We investigated salivary cortisol profiles in the first hour after awakening in morning versus evening chronotypes. Chronotypes were defined by Horne and Ostberg's Owl-and-Lark-Questionnaire. In a sample of 112 healthy, day-active young men, we identified 9 morning and 29 evening chronotypes. Saliva samples were collected 0, 30, 45, and 60min after awakening on 2 consecutive days. Log-transformed cortisol levels were analyzed with General Linear Model procedures (GLMs) and awakening time and sleep duration were entered as covariates. On both days, a significant main effect of chronotype emerged (both p=0.02), and this effect could not be explained by differences in awakening time or sleep duration. The present data support the idea that morning relative to evening chronotypes might show higher cortisol levels in the first hour after awakening. In sum, individual chronotype should be acknowledged as one further possible source of interindividual variability in the cortisol rise after awakening.

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