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The Truth About Night Owls and Morning People

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The Truth About Night Owls and Morning People

By Brie Cadman, DivineCaroline

I used to work with one of my roommates and getting up in the morning and heading to our job proved to be one of the most trying times in our friendship. I was up with the alarm clock and onto my morning routine, whereas she would stay in bed well past the ringing. Convinced we would be late, I’d go in and give her some gentle nudging, which never went over well. She’d grumble and complain; sometimes she’d hurl insults like “Leave me alone,” or “I hate you,” or simply, “Die.” Offended, I’d sulk away, even more convinced of our impending tardiness. Later on, over a strong cup of coffee, she’d apologize and we’d have a good laugh, only for the same routine to be repeated the following morning.

Get Up by Your Own CLOCK
As it turns out, our sleeping preferences weren’t just due to the fact that I responded better to the alarm. The circadian rhythm, a 24.1-hour period that dictates the sleep-wake cycle, differs among people and can influence whether we are a night owl or a morning lark.

Studies have indicated that self-described morning people have shorter circadian rhythms than self-identified night owls. This means that morning people sleep through their peak hour of sleepiness, so they wake up feeling refreshed. Evening types usually wake up right around their peak hour of sleepiness, so they may have high levels of melatonin and feel groggy. No wonder it’s tough to rouse them.

Hormones and body temperature also differ between the sleep groups. Early birds have higher levels of cortisol in the morning, which may give them the perky edge. Body temperature tends to be low in the morning, peaks in the late afternoon, and decreases until bedtime. Early risers have a body temperature peak around 3:30 p.m., while night owls are hottest around 8 p.m.

Our sleep preferences are at least in part hereditary. Differences in the CLOCK gene (short for Circadian Locomotor Output Cycles Kaput), for instance, may contribute to differences in our favored times of activity. Sleep researchers at Stanford University found that people with one genotype had an increased preference for eveningness, while the other genotype had an increased preference for morningness.

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10:15AM PDT on Jul 8, 2012

Very interesting article.... thanks.

3:21AM PDT on May 20, 2012

Early bird here.
I'm a teenager, it's saturday, and I'm perky and awake at 6:21 a.m. :)
I love the mornings!!
Though, I will say I am definitely creative!

2:58AM PDT on May 20, 2012

I am very much a night owl and have been since birth. Life is much harder than people would have you think. Centering your whole life around trying to not be tired and getting enough sleep is a huge challenge, and when my children were born, it was the same thing. They like 1 year olds and babies to be in playgroup, and what did I notice? Early morning starts. Did my children enjoy it? No. And I could not even give my children those vital early years of being able to follow circadian rhythms. And as long-term health effects are coming out, it seems crazy this whole pushing people to be awake earlier. And for the record, I have an analytical mind, I'm not all that creative, although I have a bit of writing talent, and I'm not really good at drawing. My father is excellent at drawing, and both he and my mother are early to bed, early to rise types. Although he is a scientist, so perhaps the mind/personality typing does fit.

12:48PM PDT on Mar 26, 2012


11:09PM PST on Jan 4, 2012

Thank you.

3:55PM PST on Nov 10, 2011


4:25AM PST on Nov 6, 2011

As a child going to school I used to look forward to holidays so I could 'sleep in', which in mother's books was no more than 9am. Whilst I could get up at 7 am and sometimes earlier if the inducement was sufficient, all I wanted to do was sleep. I still just want to sleep in the morning. My best and deepest sleep is always whatever I get after about 7am. I am dead to the world and dont hear a thing. Ah if only I could sleep into that earlier. If I come back to this earth, I am going to be a morning lark. It is more sociable, but I still would want to go to be late - love the late hours.

6:33PM PDT on Aug 22, 2011

I found this article very interesting. One of the largest pleasures of my retirement is being able to live by my "night owl" time clock & not having to be slave to the work day "morning lark" domination anymore. I HATE ppl who are cheerful in the morning & I am probably guilty of yelling @ former roommates to "Leave me alone!" too.

6:03PM PDT on Aug 20, 2011

I was such a night owl when I was younger. I worked swing shift and stayed up a couple hours past that when I got home. I then switched to a job where I had to be up at 4 in the morning. I was sure I was a dedicated night owl.

I have since retired and noticed that I get sleepy and go to bed around 10 pm and naturally wake up around 6 am........

go figure

11:36PM PDT on Aug 16, 2011

Interesting..when they were young I vaguely remember my kids saying.."No, YOU wake her, no you...and the never got within arms length! (Back then I worked untill 3am)

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