Chances are you already know whether you’re a morning person or a night person. Social scientists use pretty specific names for these two chronotypes. “Larks” are those who are up and at it early in the morning and tend to get into bed at a respectable evening hour. “Owls,” on the other hand, are most alert at night, and typically turn in long after dark. Many successful people say they are Larks and tout getting up early as the key to their achievements. Are there actually life-long benefits of rising early? And, is it worth changing your habits if you are an Owl and waking up early doesn’t come naturally for you? How can it be done? Let’s explore some of these questions, and more.
#1 Intelligence and health benefits
Actually, current studies say Larks are not smarter or healthier. For the purpose of the study, Larks were in bed before 11 p.m. and up before 8 a.m., while Owls were in bed after 11 and up after 8. Contrary to what was previously thought, Night Owls had larger incomes than did Morning Larks. As well, the two chronotypes also scored roughly the same on a cognitive test and showed no self- or doctor-reported health differences. Night Owls outperformed Morning Larks on most of the intelligence measures, with noticeable differences on working memory and processing speed.
#2 Morning larks report being happier
Morning Larks do report being happier, though. In other studies, those who consistently wake up earlier report being happier. Why is this the case? Many feel it is because Night Owls who are forced into a 9-5 work schedule must wake up earlier than what comes naturally to them, and therefore feel more tired and grumpy throughout the day. Others believe there may be "something more fundamentally beneficial about waking up early," Renee Bliss at the University of Toronto and Rottman Research Institute says. This may be the greater exposure to natural light, which is a known mood-elevator. A handful of studies have linked the desire to stay up late with higher rates of depression.
#3 Adjust your circadian rhythm
While staying up late may come naturally to you, you can make efforts to adjust your circadian rhythm. In 2016, a study of nearly 90,000 people appeared to suggest that humans could be genetically predisposed to being either a Lark or an Owl. Let’s say you are a self-diagnosed Night Owl, but your work and family schedule demands you are up before dawn. You don’t necessarily need to struggle. A few small lifestyle tweaks can make the shift easier for you. The most potent driver of our circadian system is light. A Night Owl wishing to be a morning person would want reduced light exposure at night, and a lot of light in the morning. The circadian rhythm responds to other cues, too. You can create cues solely for the purpose of hacking your sleep cycle. You may be able to achieve a similar effect by making yourself a cup of tea, diffusing some oils before bed, or other night time tricks to increase sleepiness.
#4 Importance of sleep
How much you sleep is more important than when you sleep. On the other hand, if you are a Night Owl with no reason to wake up at 6 am, do not be led into thinking that you must in order to be happy and healthy. Your body need eight hours of deep, restful sleep every night- whether that sleep begins at 8 pm or 11 pm. As long as your body is going through each stage in the sleep cycle, particularly Deep Sleep and REM, your circadian rhythm may just naturally be a little later than other people’s and that is okay!
The bottom line is that it doesn’t matter as much when you get your sleep, as long as you get the full eight hours of uninterrupted slumber that your body needs. If you are sleeping on the right mattress for your sleep needs, meaning it supports your spinal alignment and keeps you cool, then you shouldn’t worry too much about being a Night Owl. However, if the reason you’re staying up late and not feeling rested is because you aren’t sleeping on the right bed for you, that’s a problem. Visit your nearest City Mattress location and speak to one of our Sleep Experts about the problems you are experiencing. We’ll spend the time to find the perfect mattress for you, so you can fall asleep as early as you’d like or sleep in as late as you want!