Night owl or early bird?

Last week I wrote about how much I love getting up early and having the world all to myself – just before the sun rises.

Regardless of whether you are a morning or evening person, most of us can appreciate the peacefulness that comes just before dawn or just after dusk.

While most school and corporate schedules favor early risers, if you are part of the population that is more of an evening person there’s good news for you too.

Are you a night owl or an early bird?

Everyone has a chronotype.

Your chronotype is your propensity to sleep and wake at particular times – your specific circadian rhythm that can tend more towards “morningness” or “eveningness”. 

Many people experience changes in their chronotypes throughout their lifetime – with teens tending more toward “eveningness” and adults tending more toward “morningness”.

About 50% of your chronotype if genetic, which means the other 50% is under your control and you can change it (noted by Christoph Randler).

How to tell your chronotype

What time of day would you choose… If you were able to choose which time of day to complete a difficult workout, take a test or complete any other mentally or physically strenuous activity, in order to achieve peak results, what time would you pick?

Earlier time slots indicate that you are more of a morning person and evening time slots indicate that you are more of an evening person.

If you’re into quizzes – here’s one from a NYT article that reveals results without providing any personal information:

Chronotype Quiz – Night Owl or Early Bird?

Depending on your work schedule (which often favors waking up early), you can take your hour of peace in the evening or work to adjust your schedule.

Most folks can adjust their sleep pattern by about an hour.  So if you’re used to getting up at 6:30AM you can overtime adjust it to 5:30. Whereas, if you are waking at 10AM, you’re not likely to adjust your schedule to a 7AM wake up time very quickly.

See this interview with Christoph Randler, a biologist who performed many chronotype studies.

There’s good news for all chronotypes:

  • Good news for morning folks: You tend to be more conscientious and proactive. School and work schedules are aligned with your circadian rhythm helping you to get better grades, better jobs and more promotions.
  • Good news for evening folks: You tend to be smarter, more creative and to have a better sense of humor. You are often more outgoing, which means you are likely to be more social and have more friends.

Of course, the studies show tendencies in these directions, but they are generalizations.  You could be an introverted night owl who gets top grades, or an extroverted morning person who can’t hold down a job.

But it’s undeniable.

There are definitely chronotypes working in the background driving some of our cultural schedules like executives planning early work meetings and comedy shows in the late-night timeslot.

Struggling to wake up early because your schedule doesn’t fit your chronotype?

Try these tips to help you wake up earlier. And remember, gradual one-hour changes in wake time has proven to yield a more successful adjustment.

Embrace your morningness or eveningness!

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