Morning and evening type: The cortisol awakening response in a sleep laboratory

Psychoneuroendocrinology. 2020 Feb:112:104519. doi: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.104519. Epub 2019 Nov 20.


Background: Earlier evidence indicated an association between chronotype and the cortisol awakening response (CAR). However, these earlier data were collected without objective control for participant compliance being available, which, following recent guidelines, is considered critical for ensuring data validity. Here, we are seeking to replicate these earlier findings within a well-controlled sleep laboratory set up.

Methods: The sample consisted of 103 young males, including 12 participants defined as 'evening' (MEQ < 41) and 20 participants defined as 'morning type' (MEQ > 59) types. All participants slept for one night in a sleep laboratory and were wakened at 6:30 AM the next morning. Saliva samples for the assessment of the CAR were collected under strict supervision at 0, 15, and 30 min post-awakening.

Results: Significant effects of chronotype emerged consistently from both dimensional analyses across the entire sample and from comparisons between morning vs. evening type. Overall, greater morningness was associated with an increased cortisol level upon awakening (S1) as well as with a greater overall cortisol output (AUCG), however, it was not associated with the CAR (AUCI).

Discussion: Our data corroborate earlier evidence by showing that, under well-controlled sleep-laboratory conditions, chronotype is related to an altered cortisol secretion over the post-awakening period with no association with the CAR. However, the results have to be replicated since it is only a single day study design.

Keywords: Chronotype; Cortisol awakening response; Eveningness; Morningness.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Saliva / metabolism
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Wakefulness / physiology*
  • Young Adult


  • Hydrocortisone