When I wake up in the morning my feet hit the ground like I’m coming off the starting blocks. I am, always have been and most likely always will be a morning person. Don’t even talk to me at 8 pm. My prime time is first thing in the am, the early am. My best work and thinking generally take place before most people are out of bed. This extreme is often referred to as a lark.
On the other end of the spectrum are the people that come alive in the latter part of the evening often working until the wee hours of the night. We call them owls.
The larks and the owls represent the extremes. Most people are somewhere in between. Why is this? Habits we have gotten into or developed, behaviors we can change? Without delving into a lot of science and research our personal clocks were set before we were even born. Genetics winds the clock in regards to when a person feels most up and at em’.
To a degree both behavior and environment can be altered. For the extremes the body rules supreme and should you challenge it to a match you will lose. A lark cannot become an owl and an owl cannot become a lark. It’s what known as the circadian rhythm. Science Daily defines that as “a roughly 24 hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. In a strict sense, circadian rhythms are endogenously generated, although they can be modulated by external cues such as sunlight and temperature.”
The majority (>50%) of the populations falls in the middle — neither dawn or dusk types. They can adjust more easily to any changes in sleeping schedules. Should they need to get up or go to bed an hour or so earlier or later it won’t create too much of a problem for them.
The other half of the population splits about evenly into am and pm types with variances in the extremities. The owls get tired later in the day than normal while the larks become tired in the early evening yet are wound for sound in the am often beating the sun up.
Age can also have an effect; the teen years with their hormonal changes and social norms may prompt many teens to stay up later and sleep in. On the other end the elderly do the opposite – going to bed and getting up earlier. This could also be affected by decreased activity and medications that have a sedative effect.
Although man continues to try to change nature as always those attempts will fail and nature will endure. You can’t change the inherent clock within an individual. And many will keep their schedule well into old age.
For the extremes the preference for early morning or evening should not be considered unhealthy or something to ‘correct’. We’re all different and the more accepting we become of that the smoother life will be.
If you tend to the extreme – and larks are rarer than owls – learning to accept this and going with what nature intended will lead to a better and more productive life. Sleep is not a bad habit to be kicked. I always knew I was a ‘rare bird’ so hurry up folks you’re burning daylight!