Image by LeoPatrizi / iStock

It’s often not hard to tell if someone is a morning person or a night owl. Just check in with them at different times of day or night and see how they respond. But according to a recent study from researchers at the University of Warwick, there’s also the potential that sleep timing and personality are linked—at least in early risers. Here’s what the team found.

Assessing sleep timing and personality.

Using responses to a questionnaire about personality and sleep timing preferences (also known as chronotype), the researchers concluded that “morning people” were more likely to have higher scores on conscientiousness and lower ones on openness. They also found that people who went to bed and woke up earlier were more self-disciplined but less straightforward and less likely to seek excitement.

“Our findings have helped us to come up with two possible pathways of how personality might influence chronotype,” says postgraduate researcher Anita Lenneis, Ph.D., from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick.

“Personality traits […] may influence chronotype through shaping people’s preferences for various social activities and behaviors, which, in turn, may influence what time people go to and get out of bed, or personality may influence chronotype through active decisions people make regarding their sleep.”ADVERTISEMENT

Do personality traits determine chronotype (and can you change yours)?

Though the research team found a pattern in the questionnaire responses, Lenneis points out that it doesn’t establish causation—the link may be directional in the other way. “It could also be that chronotype influences personality or that chronotype and personality mutually influence each other,” she explains.

The researchers also looked into the way genes might play a role and found sleep patterns may be partially dictated by genetic factors.

“The findings of the genetic correlations support this view,” she continues, “but further studies will be necessary to better understand the shared genetic mechanisms between the two constructs as well as the causality of their relationships.”

If you’re not entirely sure what your chronotype is (or what it means beyond just being a morning or evening person), here’s a quick overview:

  • The bear: Someone whose sleep schedule is largely determined by the rising and setting of the sun.
  • The wolf: An evening person—someone who’d sleep through mornings if they could.
  • The lion: The classic morning person.
  • The dolphin: Those who struggle with both ends of the sleep cycle—waking up and falling asleep.

Once you determine your chronotype, you might be wondering if it’s possible to change it. And the good news (for those of us who strive to be one of those productive morning people) is that there’s hope: “Not only have we shown there is a relationship between chronotype, personality, and partially your genes, but our findings also suggest that it might be possible to change your chronotype,” explains Anu Realo, MSc, Ph.D., a professor from the Department of Psychology at the University of Warwick, “or at least train yourself into a different more socially convenient sleep pattern by increasing your self-control.”

The bottom line.

So there you have it: It’s likely possible, to a certain extent, to change your ways (and potentially your personality) to become a morning person. Looking to get started? These quick tips might help.


Image by Ryan Ahern / Stocksy

When the stress of life sets in and you need to calm down, it can be difficult to do so—unless you have an arsenal of tools and techniques to help. So, we rounded up 15 expert-backed tips for calming down that you can try the next time you need some relaxation on demand:

1. Mindfully sip tea.

Sipping a hot cup of tea is one simple way to engage your senses, which according to licensed marriage and family therapist Tiana Leeds, M.A., LMFT, helps to get you grounded fast. “Slowly sip hot tea and pay attention to its scent, taste, warmth, and how it feels as it goes down your throat,” she says.

Bonus points if you opt for a tea brewed with calming herbs, though as Leeds says, “Even mindfully sipping water can be calming.”ADVERTISEMENT

2. Give yourself a massage.

Along the same lines of engaging your senses, giving yourself a loving massage is an easy way to tap into touch, so you can get out of your head and into your body. “Massage your hands and lower arms with lotion or oil,” Leeds says, adding this works even better if the lotion has a soothing scent like lavender or jasmine.

3. Use essential oils.

Speaking of soothing scents, there are a number of different essential oils that research has shown can help ease stress, like lavender, chamomile, and patchouli. Keep your favorite calming essential oil in your purse, on your desk, in your car—really wherever you find yourself getting stressed out often—so you can take a whiff as needed.

4. Take an anti-stress supplement.

Incorporating a stress-reducing supplement into your routine can help you feel a fast sense of calm that lasts.*

mindbodygreen’s calm+, for example, is formulated with full-spectrum USDA- and E.U.-certified organic European hemp oillavender oil, and ashwagandha root and leaf extract at levels that are scientifically shown in clinical trials to support a brighter mood and up our stress resilience.* It can be taken any time of day or night to take the edge off stressors (consider it a yoga class in a bottle.)*

5. Hug someone.

Sometimes we just need a hug—and according to Leeds, hugging someone (or even cuddling a pet) for 20 seconds or more is a great way to calm down. “The elongated hug gives your nervous system a chance to co-regulate to your loved one’s more relaxed state and provides a burst of oxytocin, the bonding and belonging hormone,” she notes.

6. Move your body.

Another strategy for getting that nervous energy out is to simply move your body, in whatever way works for you. As somatic psychologist Holly Richmond, Ph.D., tells mbg, movement helps to regulate the nervous system.

“We can literally lean on our bodies as an effective tool in that de-escalation of stress,” she says—be it through a light jog, a bike ride, or HIIT class.

7. Spend some time in nature.

There’s something about getting out into nature that can make our major stressors feel, well, not so major. And as positive psychiatrist Samantha Boardman, M.D., previously told mbg, “When we can’t get out of rumination, one of the best strategies is being outside.” 

Even if you live in a city, paying a visit to your local park not only gives you some fresh air, but you’re also moving your body and engaging your senses.

8. Take a walk.

In one 2013 research study on mindful walking published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, participants with psychological distress who completed a mindful walking program displayed a reduction in stress and improved quality of life compared to those who didn’t do the program. How’s that for a quick, accessible health intervention?

9. Look for a color.

Take a look around and find everything you can see that is blue, then repeat with the color green, yellow, and so forth, until you’re feeling more calm. Leeds notes this is another easy way to engage your senses and take the focus off of whatever’s stressing you out.

10. Think of characters.

Another way to calm yourself down, according to Leeds, is to purposefully engage the rational part of your brain. “By purposefully re-engaging our rationality, we can shift out of worry and into logic,” she explains. And it doesn’t have to be anything complicated, either. Leeds suggests choosing any movie, book, or show and naming as many characters from it as you can.

11. Think of things that start with A, B, C, etc.

Similar to thinking of fictional characters, you can also access your rationality by challenging yourself to name an animal that starts with A, then one that starts with B, then C, and so on, Leeds says, adding you can repeat this process as many times as you need with different categories like food, first names, countries, etc.

12. Count backward by sevens.

One more way to engage the rational part of your brain is to count backward by sevens from 100. Again, this isn’t a test of your logic or intelligence but rather a way for your brain to focus on something that’s not emotion-based.

“When we’re overwhelmed by emotion, it is more difficult to use our prefrontal cortex, the part of our brains in charge of logic, long-term decision making, and complicated thinking,” Leeds explains. So, simple exercises like this help us ease back into logical and calmer thinking.

13. Try box breathing.

Box breathing involves inhaling for a count of 4, holding the inhale at the top for a count of 4, exhaling for 4, and holding at the bottom for 4.

It’s just one of many calming breathwork techniques you can do, but as breathwork instructor Gwen Dittmar previously explained to mbg, it’s “really great for when you’re in a stressful situation and you need to be present but also want to be calm.”

14. Take a cold or hot shower.

Richmond notes that taking a hot or cold shower is another way to engage the body, so you can get out of your head. In fact, research shows cold therapy, aka “cryotherapy,” not only helps keep inflammation in check (which is only made worse by stress) but also helps to alleviate stress. And even if you’re not into the idea of a freezing cold shower, a hot one can still be soothing.

15. Tap into your artistic side.

Last but not least, Richmond says drawing is another body-oriented process that can help you calm down and regulate your nervous system. “Instead of trying to solely talk your brain into calming down, integrating the mind and body with nervous-system-regulating exercises or activities is a much more effective practice,” she adds.

The bottom line.

It’s important to know how to calm down when the moment strikes. If you’re dealing with stress and anxiousness that’s affecting your quality of life, consider working with a professional. But in the meantime, these 15 tips and tricks should help.

And as Leeds notes, “We’re all different, so experimenting in order to identify your shortlist of soothing hacks is going to be the most effective route to returning to relaxation.”



Vaccinated and wondering whether your shot has held up? Or curious if last month’s cold was COVID-19? Read on.

More than a year and a half into the COVID-19 pandemic with three vaccines available in the US, it seems like everyone knows someone—or has at least heard of someone—who’s been vaccinated and diagnosed with the virus thereafter. So it should come as no surprise that many people are wondering whether their shot is still doing its job.

Enter, SARS-CoV-2 antibody blood tests, which detect the infection-fighting proteins that linger after your immune system beats COVID-19, or revs up in response to a vaccination. But can these tests actually gauge whether you have COVID-19 immunity?

Turns out antibody tests are definitively not recommended to determine whether you’re protected from COVID-19, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And experts don’t see great value in these commercial tests prescribed for other reasons (i.e., to find out whether you’ve had COVID-19). Here’s what you need to know about antibody tests for COVID-19, and who (if anyone) should get an antibody test.

What is an antibody test, and what is it typically used for?

Also known as serology tests, antibody tests, which require a doctor’s prescription, are blood tests that detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in the bloodstream. Antibodies are protein molecules produced by the immune system when your body fights off a pathogen or undergoes vaccination; they help defend your body from said pathogen the next time you’re exposed to it, and can also help reduce the severity of symptoms in the case of reinfection.

Antibody tests are typically used to screen for evidence of past infection or preparedness to fight off a specific virus—i.e., evidence of effective vaccination—with varying degrees of accuracy, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While antibodies can protect people from getting an infection or super sick from that infection, protection differs by individual and disease, also according to the CDC.

Commercially available tests screen for two different kinds of antibodies and can tell you how many you have, according to Dr. William Schaffner, MD, professor of infectious disease at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville:

  • Spike protein antibodies Imagine a COVID-19 virus is a tennis ball with key-like spikes, and the cells they infect are locks. Typically spikes, or spike proteins, lock up with your cells to get inside and start multiplying. Vaccines cause the body produce antibodies that glob onto the spike proteins like bubble gum so the keys can’t get in the locks.
  • Nucleocapside antibodies These are produced in response to infection. Nucleocapside refers to the tennis-ball part of the virus; neucleocapside antibodies prevent this area of the virus from getting into your cells.

Should you get an antibody test to see if you’ve had COVID-19?

In theory, testing positive for spike protein antibodies should mean your vaccine is working, and a positive nucleocapside antibody test should confirm you’ve had COVID-19. But—and this is big but—the jury is out on how many antibodies you need for immunity, and how long that immunity might last, according to the FDA. What’s more: “We don’t know whether antibodies protect against various COVID-19 strains in circulation,” Dr. Cheryl G. Healton, DrPH, dean of the School of Global Public Health at New York University, tells Health. “So there’s not much value in antibody testing.”

Dr. Schaffner—and the majority of his infectious disease colleagues—agree: “In medical school, we’re taught you should never do a test unless you know what you’re going to do with a positive or negative result,” he tells Health. “In the case of antibody testing, the results can’t be interpreted, which is why we don’t recommend it at all.”

If there’s one thing literally every expert and governing body agrees on, it’s that antibody presence should not take the place of vaccination or boosters among those who are eligible.

Should you get an antibody test to see if you presently have COVID-19?

No. Because it can take one to three weeks after infection to detect virus antibodies, these tests aren’t your best bet for diagnosing COVID-19 on the spot, according to the CDC.

That’s not the only reason why you shouldn’t rely on an antibody test to tell whether you have COVID-19: The blood tests are prone to false negatives among those who don’t have enough antibodies yet, and false positives among those who’ve been exposed to coronaviruses besides COVID-19, according to the FDA.

The good news: There are tests can accurately check for current COVID-19 infections, per the CDC—those are known as viral tests which examine the sputum from your nose or mouth for signs of the virus. The CDC lists two types of viral tests commonly used to test for COVID-19: nucleic acid amplification tests, or NAATs (you may know this type of test by one of its main types, the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction, or RT-PCR test), and antigen tests. NAATs identify the genetic material of the virus in samples, while antigen tests identify the presence of antigens.

Should you get an antibody test to see if your COVID-19 vaccine is still working?

“No,” says Dr. Healton—and you’d be hard-pressed to find an expert who disagrees.

Antibody testing is not currently recommended to assess for immunity to COVID-19 following vaccination, according to the CDC, which notes that these diagnostic tools have variable sensitivity, specificity, and positive and negative predictive values. In other words? They just don’t tell you that much, and aren’t especially accurate in assessing protection from COVID-19.

Even in the case of a positive result, the jury is out on just how many antibodies result in production. In other words, you might have some degree of protection, but don’t know whether you’re holding a plastic or ironclad shield, and whether your body is prepared actually prepared to fight COVID-19.

It should go without saying that you shouldn’t get an antibody test to assess your need to get the second shot in your vaccine series, or a booster—just get them.

Are COVID-19 antibody tests ever helpful?

“In clinical research settings where studies use highly validated research protocols for utmost accuracy, antibody tests can be useful,” offers Dr. Schaffner, who can’t think of a great use case for a commercially available antibody test.

Because these tests won’t definitively tell you if you have, had, could get, or could spread COVID-19, and because a positive test could give you a false sense of security, experts generally recommend against COVID-19 tests in all circumstances outside of research laboratories.

The bottom line here: Antibody testing is not recommended to check and see if your COVID-19 vaccine is still “working,” and experts agree there’s no huge value in testing to see if you’ve previously been infected with the virus. However, “if your health care provider wants to know whether you’ve been infected with COVID-19, it may be helpful,” says Dr. Healton. But take the results with a grain of salt and without plans to act on them: “Being antibody positive is not a substitute for vaccination.”


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