There are always two sides to everything, whether it’s the sides of a coin or different version of a story. It can also be two opposite ends like the polarities of a magnet, peace and war, north and south, positive and negative, a sharp and a blunt object. The two sides can also differ in beliefs, for example a religious person versus a scientific person, a democratic government versus a communist government or politicians who are pro-administration versus opposition, conservatives and liberals. Gryffindor or Slytherin, Autobots or Decepticons. Light and dark, a morning person or a night person.

Let’s discuss something that most working individuals or students experience. Let’s start with the question “are you a lark or a night owl?” There are individuals who go to sleep before 10:00PM and are up before the sun rises while there are others that are asleep all day and their day starts before 10:00PM. Why are there individuals who are at the opposite end of normal bedtimes? Why are there people who tend to be cheerful during the day and others who tend to be active during the night or nocturnal like a bat?

This may be you or your friend in the next cubicle. Image courtesy of www.smh.com.au

This may be you or your friend in the next cubicle. Image courtesy of www.smh.com.au

1 out of 10 people idefntify as ‘morning people’; they are usually up at dawn and raring to go out and do some work or exercise. These people are called larks. 2 out of 10 are night owls, who enjoys doing activities all night and hit the sack when everyone is just waking up. The rest are called hummingbirds, who are people that fall in the middle of these opposites. A person who belongs in this group can be ready for any action early in the day or late at night. Some hummingbirds are more larkish while some are more like night owls. I myself used to be a night owl. This is because of the nature of work that I was in. I used to work in a call center that catered to American customers, thus office hours usually start at 7pm. After working the night shifts at the call center, I had my band gigs on weekends in the city. Gigs start at 10pm and finish at 1am. I usually get home by 3 or 4 am, watch tv, have a cup of coffee or read a book before I hit the sack at 6am. This went on for a whole 3 years. After that I worked in an Australian telecoms company called Dodo where the work shifts start between 6am and 7am and end by 4pm or 5pm which I found to be much more pleasurable.

a perky morning person. Image courtesy of www.savvysugar.com

A perky morning person. Image courtesy of www.savvysugar.com

Animal studies have suggested that being a lark or a night owl may be caused by something in the human genes. This may also explain why people who are early risers or all-nighters find it hard to change their behavior.

A Lark Or A Morning Person Defined

An early bird, a lark or a morning person is an individual who normally gets up early every morning and goes to bed early every evening. The term was derived from a bird called the lark which is diurnal. Larks or morning persons are more energetic just after they get up every morning, thus larks are well suited for doing activities during the day or working the day shift. You are a morning person if you:

–          Always sing in the shower. It doesn’t matter how early you get out of bed.

–           Take brisk walks, swim, hike, bike or run before the sun rises.

–           Need to have at least 8 hours of sleep to enjoy all the energy inside you.

–           Accomplish 90% of your job before lunch while your night owl friend in the next cubicle is struggling to finish his sandwich without falling asleep.

–          You give people the time-honored advice of “the early bird gets the early worm”  but you wonder and think why you are not getting any invites for night parties.

–          If you are happy every time you wake up in the morning and have a better disposition throughout the day.

The 5 essential reasons why being a morning person is beneficial

1. You will get the best out of your body and mind

If you have enough sleep and are not suffering from any illness or health problems, a good night’s sleep will get you totally rested and have you energized in the morning. If you have the energy, a well rested mind and body will help you be active in all activities throughout the day. A good breakfast and a caffeine push will help fuel all your creativity and work juices.

2. You will get the best of other individuals

Almost all people around the world are nicer in the morning because they haven’t had the chance to have issues or disturbances that can affect their attitude during the day. Although some may argue about this, in most cases it is correct.

3. Everything is quiet

Everything is quiet during the early mornings and there are less people going around the house, the park or the office. This means that you will have a nice quite head start to do anything that you need to do. You can also plan effectively when your mind is rested.

4. Work or any activity and finish it early

The earlier you get up, the earlier you prepare, the earlier work is started and finished. You can start on other tasks at hand and you will be less likely to be an off track at the end of the day. You will feel better because so much was accomplished during the day, which may not require you to do any over time. Maybe you could go home early and spend some time with your family at the dinner table.

5. Dressed to perfection

Because you have more time preparing when you wake early, you will more time in putting yourself together. You will be able to choose the right clothes and shoes to wear. Wearing the right get-up will surely be a good start to your day.

 A Night Owl or Night Person Defined

A night owl is the opposite of a lark; they are active and up during the night and go to sleep when the sun starts to rise. The term was derived  from the known nocturnal habits of an owl. Night owls or night persons are wide awake past midnight and most of them can stay awake just before or after dawn. Night owls are active and energetic before they go to sleep at night. Most night owls have a preference of staying up late or prefer to work during night shifts. Most night owls tend to have difficulties adapting to normal daytime activities or daytime working hours. You’re a night person when:

–          Sunlight is your Kryptonite.

–          Birds start singing while the smell of your neighbor’s coffee and bacon is wafting in the air around the time you fall asleep.

–          You do your best work around 2:00am

–          Anyone perky or sharp in the morning doesn’t make you happy.

–          You can sleep for 5-6 hours a night and still have the energy to go for a bike ride in the evening but can’t even lift a pencil in the morning.

–          You’re trying to force yourself to sleep, but your mind is running at 100 miles per hour and you have to write all of your ideas on paper.

The 5 Advantages of being a night owl include

1. Procrastination helps night owls

According to one study, night owls are more likely to feel more energetic and concentrate more in the evening. Night owls will take advantage of the opposite effects of larks and can have an excuse to procrastinate work until the sun starts to set. They turn procrastination into action at night.

2. Higher intelligence

Some scientist believe that night owls are more intelligent compared to larks. A study supported this hypothesis. The study stated that participants with an IQ less than 75 went to bed early while participants with IQs higher than 125 went to bed late.

3. Night owls require less sleep

According to a study that was performed by Swiss and Belgian researchers using MRIs in monitoring the brain activity of young, healthy adults, night owls do not require much sleep to function well compared to larks. After both larks and night owls had 7 hours of sleep, the researchers believe that larks need more sleep to function as compared to night owls.

4. Night owls are more creative

According to sleep expert professor Jim Horne, night people are likely to be more creative and think outside the box. He also added that inventors, poets, artists, musicians and other extrovert creative types are night owls while morning persons are often seen as civil servants, accountants and managers.

5. Having flexible sleeping patterns

Based on professor Jim Horne’s book “Sleepfaring: A Journey Through The Science Of Sleep”, he stated that morning persons have more difficulty adapting their sleep patterns to a schedule as compared to night owls. He also added that night owls can easily adjust their body clock in just a few nights if ever they need to be a morning person.

This is what I call a snooze landmine. Image courtesy of www.shemazing.net

This is what I call a snooze landmine. Image courtesy of www.shemazing.net

Brain Functions of Larks and Night Owls

Scientists and experts at the University of Alberta have found that there are notable differences between larks and night owls. Neuroscientists in the Faculty of Physical education and Recreation studied 2 groups of people – those who wake up early and are more productive during the day and those who were identified to be more lively at night. The study subjects were grouped after performing a standardized questionnaire regarding their habits. The scientists used magnetic resonance imaging-guided brain simulation in testing the muscle torque and the excitability of the spinal cord and brain pathways. The research found that the brains of larks are most active at 9am and slowly decrease as the day goes on. For night owls, it’s the complete opposite. The brains of the night owls are most active by 9pm and slowly decreases as the night goes on.

The experts and scientists also found out that evening people are physically stronger all throughout the day, even if the maximum amount of force is the same as morning people. The reflex pathways that go through the spinal cord increased over the day for larks and night owls. The research also showed that nervous-system functions are different and have implications in maximizing the human performance. The study and the findings were published in the June issue of the Journal of Biological Rhythms with the research team that includes neuroscientist Dave Collins, technician Alex Ley and students Olle Lagerquist and Alex Tamm.

Lunch productivity. Image courtesy of dilbert.com

Lunch productivity. Image courtesy of dilbert.com

Being a night owl or a lark each has its benefits. You just have to use it to your advantage to be more productive and successful. To know if you are a lark or a night owl, answer these simple questions to find out.

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