February 03, 2020

When we think of sleep, we identify ourselves to one of two categories: “night owl” or “early bird.” If you are a night owl, you tend to have more energy in the evening and go to bed later. An early bird, on the other hand, follows the “early-to-bed, early-to-rise” regimen and are more productive in the morning as opposed to the evening. So, how do the two differ and which one is better?


Understanding your sleep chronotype

The label of early bird and night owl are determined both biologically and genetically, however can also be defined based on your unique lifestyle, mood, and how you think and sleep. Scientists refer to the them as chronotypes. The word chronotype describes an individual’s disposition regarding the time of day when they engage in sleep versus activity.


Where do the differences stem from?

The main difference between a night owl and early bird is genetic based on their circadian rhythm (the inner clock that regulates sleep), as well as one’s “social jet lag.” Every brain is equipped with a biological clock, which ultimately controls the production of melatonin, a hormone that makes you sleepy. Social jet lag refers to the lack of synchronization, which occurs when you don’t get enough sunlight and your body becomes confused as to whether it should be awake or asleep.


Night Owl vs. Early Bird

Night Owl

Early Bird

More extravagant and impulsive

May be more persistent

Creative personality

Analytical personality

Spontaneous in decision making

Thinks things out more thoroughly

Have trouble saying no

Tend to be more agreeable

Avoids work or waits until the last minute

Procrastinate less with tasks

Increased stress levels

Lower rate of anxiety and depression


Which one is better?

Based on brain studies, research points favorably towards early birds. People who go to bed later can have a higher risk of depression due to staying up through the early hours of the night and sleeping later into the day. This pattern may leave you feeling sleep deprived, especially when you must wake up early for work or school. Night owls are also more likely to develop addictive behaviors, mental disorders, or antisocial tendencies. Therefore, being an early bird is better for your overall health and physical wellbeing.


How to become an early bird

So, the biggest question is, can you fight biology and change from a night owl to an early bird? It will take time and dedication but the answer is yes. The best way to overcome your sleep challenges is to adjust the time you go to bed and the time you wake up by 15 minutes each night. This will allow your body to adjust to the change gradually. What you are ultimately doing is altering your circadian clock. Additional steps you can take include engaging in light activity, such as yoga or stretching, and getting extra light exposure throughout the day.


Studies have shown that 80% of the population are night owls and 20% are early birds. So, which one are you? Comment NIGHT OWL or EARLY BIRD below.

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