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by Lori Herren August 28, 2020 5 min read

It’s a common scenario for people to be classified by their habits and, sometimes KNOWN by their habits. You will frequently be warned, “watch out for Sarah, she’s not a morning person!” Or, “Matt will talk your ear off before 8:30 am - morning person!” Our habit, type, or “best time of day” personality can and will define us as either an early morning riser or a night owl. Is this REALLY a thing? YES IT IS!!  It is so much of a ‘real thing” that research has been done and names have to be given to each side of the spectrum. Early morning risers, aka “morning people” are classified as Larks, whereas night people, or nights owls, are classified as owls. 

What defines each group and how, if possible, is it more beneficial to be a lark or an owl?

What Is A Lark?

Here, in our context, a lark can be described as someone who rises early in the morning, (morning types), feeling energetic and ready to start the day.

  • Larks have the tendency to wake up early and actually are happy to be awake
  • Larks feel refreshed and ready to take on the day when they arise
  • Larks feel best and tend do their best work and have their best focus early in the day
  • Larks molecular body clock runs faster than what time it actually is
  • Larks are commonly more productive, especially early in the day
  • Larks usually grow tired early in the evening and go to bed early
  • Larks are not usually all-night party animals

What Is An Owl?

Those known as nights owls, late-night people, are called owls. An owl is classified as an evening person, (evening types), someone who is awake late into the night and early morning hours.

  • Owls do their best work in the evening hours
  • Owls like to sleep in late
  • Owls are more happy socially at night, preferring to go out at night
  • Owls can easily eat dinner late
  • Owls cannot function well early in the morning
  • Owls sometimes have trouble falling asleep and some have what is called delayed sleep phase syndrome

 

Which Is Better, Lark Or Owl?

First, let’s take a look at the way our body functions to better understand. All species that make up nature, humans included, have what is known as a circadian rhythm, which is the daily cycle of activity that we exhibit. As humans we have an advantage over other species of mammals in that we can override our internal biological clock and choose, within our circadian rhythm, whether we want to be a lark or an owl. Genetics don’t determine entirely how our rhythm functions. That being said, humans are diurnal (day-living) species, because of our lack of ability to see at night without the aid of artificial lighting.

Surprisingly enough, in my research I have found studies that support both larks AND owls as the better option. 

  • In the case for owls (Night Owls) An analysis of a large group of young Americans confirms that, “through a large number of demographic and social factors, more intelligent children grow up to be more nocturnal as adults than less intelligent children” . This hypothesis was written by Satoshi Kanazawa for Psychology Today. It is his prediction “that more intelligent individuals are more likely to be nocturnal than less intelligent individuals.”
  • In the case for larks (Early Risers) - A CNBC reported a study done by researchers at the University of Birmingham that looked specifically at the brain function of a group of larks and a group of owls. Through MRI’s and several testing sessions “the researchers found that owls had lower resting brain connectivity in ways that are associated with poorer attention, slower reactions and increased sleepiness throughout the hours of a typical work day.”
  • The researchers at University of Birmingham did find that “brain connectivity in the regions of the brain that can predict better performance and lower sleepiness were significantly higher in larks at all times, leading one to believe that the resting phase in brain connectivity of night owls is not at optimum level all day.” 

 

There is research equal to say that BOTH sides, in one way or another, are better than the other. I’m going to take that as a fact that there is hope for both larks and owls to have fully functioning, happy, productive lives, if we so choose.

Which One Are You?

" 23andMe and the U.K. Biobankin were sourced as the basis for a scientific study that closely investigated the genomes of nearly 700,000 people. It was discovered, with great care, genes by the hundreds are affiliated with how you develop your role of a night owl or an early bird. Regions of the genome the study found to be relevant in whether you’re an early bird or night owl included genes involved in metabolism, the biological clock and genes that function in the retina." So, no surprise that our genetic make-up can play a pivotal role in our classification of which camp we find ourselves a member, whether it be "Team Lark" or "Team Owl,"

You know, without a doubt now, whether you are a lark or an owl. You knew before you started reading this article, but that thought is now confirmed. This writer is a bonafide, proud, card-carrying member of "Team Owl! The only reason to be up at any point of the morning for me is coffee. Mornings are like someone waking you up with a spotlight in your face, in the middle of a job interview that you aren't qualified for. Nighttime is my time! I love sunsets, the moon and stars, and the quiet stillness that falls at nighttime. Night has dinner, the best of all meals, the best television options and the best time to gather with friends. Night brings Broadway shows, movies, and city lights. All those things can be seen in the daytime but they come alive at night, and so do I! I like to fall asleep when it's still dark but I'll pass on sunrise. I'm much happier seeing the sunset.

 

Embrace Your “Type”

As I have embraced my "owl" status, I encourage you to embrace yours. I may not be a "lark" but I really respect those that are. Early birds do get way more accomplished in the first part of the day when they are refreshed and a new day is just beginning. Night owls take their productivity into the first hours of a new day. There are many benefits to both and the world functions better with BOTH types alive and active, productive in their own unique setting. No matter morning types or evening types, we need each other to keep our societies and world functioning. So sit back and embrace your personal type. Whether you enjoy the time of day to see the sunrise or the sunset, be glad you live in a world that makes room for both!

 

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Sources:

https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/15/study-reveals-if-night-or-morning-people-have-brain-function-advantage.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-scientific-fundamentalist/201005/why-night-owls-are-more-intelligent-morning-larks

Lori Herren
Lori Herren

Lori D. Herren is a graduate of the University of West Georgia where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications for Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations, with minors in Marketing and Music. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends and pursuing her love of music.


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