Night owls vs Early birds
Night owls vs Early birds
What’s an early bird?
Early birds tend to:
- go to bed early
- wake up early
- feel their best as the day begins
- have less energy in the late afternoon and evening
- have a hard time staying awake past a certain hour
As a general rule, early birds find society more accommodating than night owls do. Early risers generally have an easier time adjusting to standard daytime schedules, which can make it easier to function at workplaces that operate during the day.
In fact, according to a 2012 research review, morning people report higher levels of positive emotions. It’s worth considering, though, that happiness and other positive emotions may come more easily when your sleep pattern allows you to easily nestle into society.
The flip side: Pursuing and maintaining relationships and other social connections might become somewhat more difficult if you have a hard time staying awake past 8 or 9 p.m. — unless you seek out other morning larks, that is.
What’s a night owl?
Night owls tend to:
- stay up late
- enjoy sleeping in
- feel their best later in the day
- have more energy at night
- feel tired after waking up early
- have a hard time staying alert during the day
Being a night owl does have a few downsides. Since most of society is structured around a daytime schedule — like 9 to 5 workdays or daytime school and college classes — late risers might have a harder time holding a traditional job. Young night owls might even have trouble adjusting to a fixed school schedule.
A 2019 studyTrusted Source suggested that night owls may face other disadvantages, too, including increased risk of mental health conditions and metabolic concerns.
Still, while early birds might get the worms, night owls aren’t always left bereft. A preference for the evening hours isn’t always a bad thing, in other words. Plenty of artists, writers, and creative professionals find they get their best work done as the world quietly sleeps around them.
Here are the most common characteristics associated with night owls:
- More creative. According to recent studies, night owls may have more mental stamina than early birds. Adolescents and teens who self-reported later sleep schedules were more intelligent and creative, on average than those who went to bed early. The study of 20,000 participants in the U.K. accounted for many variables, including ethnicity, education, and religion.
- Second wind at night. If you’re a late-to-bed, late-to-rise type, you can stay alert later, and hit your peak performance time closer to the evening time, which can be beneficial in certain lines of work. Learn more about maximizing peak performance hours.
- Difficulty working standard hours. Evening types who get to bed at three in the morning may find it difficult to thrive at a corporate job that requires standard working hours.
- Higher risk of health issues. The discrepancy between chronotype and modern working hours is so prevalent that it has a dedicated term: social jet lag. When evening people have to work against their body clock to conform to morning lark hours for work, they tend to pick up unhealthy habits. Thus, night owls are at higher risk for health issues, like obesity, diabetes, and heart disease, and addictive behaviors.
- Sleep issues. A 2010 survey of nearly 4,000 people in Canada found that self-identified night owls were more likely to have vivid, severe nightmares, independent of age and sleep duration. Once essential to the species, this type of chronotype variation can now be a liability—and a leading cause for chronic sleep deprivation.
5 Characteristics of Early Birds
Around 40 percent of the population are physiologically primed to be early birds. Here is a breakdown of the most common characteristics of the chronotype:
- More active during the day. Researchers at the University of Oulu in Finland tracked 6,000 middle-aged participants for two weeks and found that early risers experience 20 to 30 minutes more significant movement throughout the day than early birds. More activity and exercise is better for your health and can also help you get better sleep at night.
- Punctual. According to a small 300-person study at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, students who identify as early birds tend to arrive earlier to morning lectures.
- Thrive in corporate environments. Early birds aren’t necessarily more successful, but they’re certainly better equipped to handle traditional working hours for office environments, where operating well in the early morning hours is an asset.
- Lower risk of health issues. A 2019 study published in Nature Communications assessed the sleep styles of 250,000 Americans via wrist-worn activity trackers. The results suggest that a genetic predisposition to waking early may be associated with a lower risk of mental health issues, like schizophrenia and depression.
- Experience more daytime fatigue. While being an early bird has many advantages, some early risers experience more daytime fatigue than night owls and may find that they lose energy earlier in the evening. Learn about curbing excessive daytime sleepiness in our complete guide.
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