February 24, 2020 2 min read
Are you a Night Owl or an Early Bird? You probably already know which ‘bird’ you resonate with, but is it true that one is better than the other? Let’s take a look.
What are Night Owls vs. Early Birds?
Scientists have specific terminology to explain the two types of sleepers. They’re calledchronotypes. In short, chronotypes describe when an individual's circadian cycle prefers sleep. For example, Early Bird’s are called larks, whereas Night Owls are still called Night Owls. Most people have a general sense of what kind of chronotype they are, and there’s both genetic and lifestyle factors that contribute to why we fall into either the Early Bird or Night Owl category.
What’s the difference between Early Birds and Night Owls?
Let’s talk about key differences between each chronotype.
Early Birds tend to have persistent and perfecting personalities. They are more likely to be awake, alert, and ready for their work day. This means that larks generally set themselves up for success if they have a 9 to 5 type of work schedule, but don’t always have the ability to to stay alert for social events occurring later in the evening.
On the other side, Night Owl’s are notably spontaneous and extravagant. These personalities enjoy the rush that is life and tend to successfully think on the go. Night Owl’s are more prone to hitting that snooze button for obvious reasons, and tend to wake up groggy and grumpy in the morning.
Scientists say that although being one or the other is somewhat rooted in genetics, it’s possible to change into your preferred chronotype.
Early Bird or Night Owl, which is better?
So after all that, is there a better side? The answer is yes, scientists seem to slightly favor Early Birds. A study conducted at the University of Germany concluded that Night Owl’s have less white matter in their brains. Which indicates that Night Owls have a higher risk of depression and impaired cognitive functioning.
In general, most studies point out that Night Owl’s are more prone to depression, habitual alcohol and tobacco use, and have poorer diet choices than early risers. However, they are also known to be smarter and have stronger resistance to sleepiness.
Switching from a Night Owl to an Early Bird
Want to make the switch over to an Early Bird? It will take time, but it’s very possible. For those wanting to go from late nights to early mornings, some suggestions include lowering your light exposure in the evening, waking up with the sun, and having coffee and food in the morning. Studies suggest that the more consistent your sleep and wake time routine are, the closer you are to reaching Early Bird status.
Although Early Birds get the win this time around. There are pros and cons for each type, and if you are determined, it’s quite possible to switch from one to the other. Just like any other lifestyle choice, you’ll have to stay determined to reach that end goal.
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Most guidelines say adults need an average of 7-8 hours of sleep daily. Children need a bit more to develop and grow. But is this really true? And are there any individual differences we're not told about?
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