Are you an Early Riser or a Late Sleeper?
If you are a late riser, there’s a good chance you have been ridiculed or been made to feel inferior to the seeming moral superiority of your early riser friends.
They leave you with the much undeserved Lazy stigma, completely ignorant of the facts behind being a late riser or morning owl has a lot to do with genetics. We now know that melatonin secretion starts late on the day for night owls and this makes them more productive long after the early bird has given up and gone to sleep.
Much to the early risers dismae, it probably is true that there is nothing wrong with being one or the other. But the fact remains that late sleepers are challenged in a society that has been designed primarily for early risers.
Morning Lark or a Night Owl?
In my country, Larks and Owls are called A or B people. This has created a canyon between early risers and late sleepers. Being on the A-team is the only accepted group to be in. B people are seen as lazy and second-class human beings. At least according to most Early Risers!
200 years ago, when industrialization started, a few ‘smart’ people wanted to design society. They sent out a message to everybody, calling to a meeting early Monday morning at 7. And of course, only Early risers were present. So they designed a world where we ALL need to rise early, no matter whether we are Early Birds, Late Owls, Introverted or extroverted! The A-Team wanted all of us to be like them.
Late Owls and Stress
I am very serious when I claim that most Early Risers haven’t got a clue what it means to be a Late Sleeper.
And they don’t have a clue how much stress they apply to society, mostly to Late Owls but indeed also to themselves!
A few years ago I had a neighbour. At one point he got a new job that demanded he woke up at 5.30 every morning. It took only a few months before he broke down with stress.
Early risers have no idea what society pays for them imposing their work terms on Late Owls. In Western countries, 1/3 of the workforce has experienced stress. Not all stress is related to this but approximately 20% of the workforce is Night Owls, so it is definitely a contributing factor.
Early Risers constitute another 20% and the remaining 60% is both.
Your inner clock
We all have an inner clock. And this clock runs in different timezones. My inner clock runs in a different time zone than yours. The Early Bird jumps fast out of bed at 5 AM, while I wake up very slowly at 8, and then I use at least 30 minutes just snoozing!
If I am forced to wake up at 5 I am behind myself the rest of the day. My body will use a disproportionate amount of energy trying to catch up with the clock of society. The first two – three hours, I am not worth anything.
I react instinctively to things. Almost unconsciously. And non-engaging. I don’t approach anyone, and I don’t talk to anyone. I only want to be left alone!
Late Sleeper in Early Riser Society is like Jet lag.
Around noon, I am awake but at that time my body has spent all my energy trying to be present, so I am exhausted and I am of no use the rest of the day.
And when I come home, the rest of the day is spent skipping actions. Doing nothing. Surfing the net. And eventually after dinner I have 1 or 2 creative hours – before I have to force myself to go to bed.
Just to experience I can’t fall asleep, and then I don’t get sleep enough.
It’s like jet lag.
I hate it!
Inner Clock and Bedtime
Two things control our bedtime. The first is hardwired and can’t be changed. This is a master clock we have in our body, just like a computer has a master clock that syncronizes everything. This is what determines our circadian rythm. For some peolle it changes over time. Not dramatically but the older you get the bigger are the chances you will rise a little earlier. Not all people though. Only some.
The second thing that determines our sleep pattern and bed time is how long we have been awake. The more energy we use during our wake time determines when we are too tired to stay awake.
Because sleep pressure accumulates during the hours we are awake, it would be logical to assume we are most alert right after waking up.
But that’s not what research found. Christina Schmidt who is a doctoral student at the University of Liège in Belgium made an experiment with 16 Early Birds and 15 Late Owls to take a test in a brain scanner. The subjects had to pay attention to some numbers on a monitor and hit a button when these numbers began to change. They were allowed to sleep in their own natural patterns and take the test 1.5 hours and 10.5 hours after waking, regardless of the time of the day.
Both groups performed equally on the first test 1.5 hours after waking, but at the 10.5 hour test the Late Sleeper performed 6% better. So it seems sleep pressure builds up faster in Early Birds than in Late Owls and that this lowers their cognition during the day. Morning people simply lose their concentration faster.
But the thing that is really interesting is the brain scannings showed that Night Owls on the 10.5 hour scan, have greater activity in the master clock region of their brains than the Early Risers. This suggests that circadian clock and sleep pressure can influence each other, meaning if you are exhausted you can go to sleep before your master clock says so. We don’t know the long term effect of this behaviour yet, but it seems both factors need to have a say. In other words if you are tired you need to sleep!
Genetics and Late Sleepers
Scientists discover how a common mutation leads to Night Owl disorder. Science has done it again. Invented yet another diagnose. Being a Late Owl is now a disorder!
This is a study from 2020 that shows how a genetic mutation offsets the timing of the circadian clock. This is a syndorom called Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder.
The study says it is a mutation in Late Owls genetics but doesn’t explain why and how. When reading the study and turning it upside down they coul as easily say the same about Early Birds.
They do not explain why it is the Late Sleepers genetics that has mutated and not the Early Risers. What is their reference? What is the correct gene structure? Why isn’t it at Premature Sleep Phase Disorder for Early Risers?
We really have to be careful with scientific studies because of one simple rule. You get what you measure! This means if you have prejudices on a subject you will get the results that confirm your prejudices.
Thay might be right. Maybe Late Owls are a syndrome. But they might as well be wrong. We need better scientiffic search results.
- Research shows that if Late owls were to live freely many of them would end up in a Circadian rhythm at 45 hours! They would be awake for 30 hours and sleep for 15. Scientists call this a freely running inner watch.
- 90% of all teenagers are Late Owls and only a few change when they get older!
- Early Risers and Late Owls are assumed on average to have the same energy but not at the same time. Early Risers have most energy in the morning hours. Late Owls have most energy late afternoon or night.
- Early Risers get higher salaries.
- Late Owls are often musicians and artists.
Early Riser Characteristics:
- Waking up with no alarm. Immediately ready.
- Easily fall asleep.
- Enjoy working in the daytime.
- Decreassing energy during the the day. Most energy in the morning.
- The preferred meal is breakfast.
- Exercise before noon.
- In bed at 9 pm – 9.30.
- Impatience and fast pace.
- Usually Achievers.
Late Owl Characteristics
- Heavy snooze-button user.
- Most energy in the late afternoon and the night. Sometimes even late at night. Energy increases during the day.
- Not necessarily a fixed circadian rhythm – sleeping longer in the weekends.
- Less sleep and rarely well rested.
- Like to take a nap during daytime.
- Preferred meal is dinner.
- Prefer exercise late afternoon or early night.
- In bed at midnight or later.
- Many Late Owls suffer from Social Jetlag.
- Biggest challenge is to handle impatient Early Risers.
- Usually highly Creative.
Quality of Life
Being an Early Bird makes you fit much more smoothly into society.
Early Risers work with other Early Risers, often high paced because that is what this group of people are minded for.
They are in sync with the energy flow in almost any company.
Late Owls don’t fit in as easily as Early Risers. Their energy flow is NOT in sync with schools or workplaces, and they have less reason to be happy about their work.
What’s even worse is that, research (See References below) shows that Early Risers get higher salaries!
Research shows that 60% of us are not larks or owls. They are a mix of the two. Another thing is women tend to be Morning Larks and men tend to be Night Owls. Most teenagers are Night Owls and during life it seems some people slowly tends to become more lark.
Are you trying to fit in?
Being a Late Owl in an Early Bird society equals stress, too little sleep, bad immune system, and more illnesses.
Concentration is a nightmare, and we don’t perform well in a society that is designed by Early Birds for Early Birds.
Some even feel alienated because they don’t fit into the norms of society, and they lose self-worth.
Can You Change Your Chronotype?
I have tried most of my life to adjust my inner clock to society clock. And it doesn’t work! I am from another planet, and I do not fit in! My Chronotype is pretty fixed!
Studies show that Early Birds fighting to be successful actually may be on the wrong track. It seems Night Owls are far more productive than Early Birds:
11 Scientifically Proven Reasons Why Night Owls Get More Done
The difference between Early Risers and Late Sleepers is much like racism. Many Early Risers think Late Owls need to get their shit together and adapt, but it is exactly the same as asking a black person to change his skin colour.
I wouldn’t even try to change my chronotype. It simply induces stress. For some people the chronotype changes during life and they become more Early Risers, but sliding between chronotypes doesn’t happen for everybody.
Misconseptions about Late Sleepers
You probably already heard the gurus talk about how productive you will be if you rise at 4 AM. Robin Sharma is one of them. But they mistakenly believe what works for them as Early Risers also will work for me who is a very Late Sleeper.
I have tested myself numerous times and the result is tha same every time. Rising at 4 AM is worse than a night mare! Yeah it’s nice to watch the sun rise through my sleepy eyes, but I am everything else but productive. If I rise at 4 AM I am not really awake during the day. My cognition is not fully working.
I am VERY convinced if you want succes it is not at all determined by waking up at 4 AM. I am VERY convinced success is easier to achieve if you go with your own inner flow. Sleep when you are tired and work when you are completely rested.
The brain benefits of deep sleep.
Here is a video with the relaxing sounds of a small mountain stream. It is great to listen to whan trying to fall asleep ot just taking a nap.
What happened to me every morning:
Early Risers don’t need an alarm to wake them up. Usually, they do it all by themselves, but I can’t do that. So I need to use this terror device Early Risers invented to ‘help’ Late Owls fit into their agenda. The Alarm Clock!
When my alarm woke me at 5 AM, my body immediately went into Flight Mode (fight/flight). My first thought was, “FUCK! Not again!” I woke up in shock! Every single morning. In a few weeks, these morning shocks accumulate into trauma and I began to malfunction. After exactly one month, I collapsed in a terror reign of stress. My immune system was totally broken after this and I cought a Covid. It took me a month to recover from stress and Covid.
The result of living like this are I don’t feel appreciated by society. I feel abused!
An alarm clock buzzing at 5 AM is psychological abuse. It felt like an assault by my employer. Seriously! The alarm clock is a torture instrument invented by early risers to make late sleepers feel more guilty because they don’t fit in!
The ideal day for an Early Riser
You wake up at 4 to 5 AM and you are instantly ON! Many Early Risers do not need an alarm. It is only a matter of milliseconds until you are at full speed. You have a lot of energy and can’t wait to get out there and do something. You spend your energy during the first part of the day and at night you are less energetic and maybe even worn out so you have to go to bed early.
The ideal day for a Night Owl
Early Birds have no idea what it feels like to be a Late Riser in an Early Bird society. If you want a feel of how it is, imagine this:
You would start at work at 6 PM and go home at 02 AM. You would then go to sleep from 3 AM to 11 PM and your off time would be in the afternoon from 11 AM to 6 PM.
This would kill most Early Risers, but save the Late Owls! Right?
Ideally, you shouldn’t need an alarm clock to wake you up. It is healthier to wake up at your own natural body speed. No stress. No panic. No traumatic mornings.
Late sleepers wake up naturally at some point after 8 PM. Some even first at 12! The day starts slowly, and we have to pick up where to start at our own pace. A slow quiet cup of tea or coffee, reading the paper or doing some non-binding activities and meeting at work somewhere between 9 AM and 12 PM. Some even prefer working afternoons or nights!
And those of us who have this Late Riser clock inside don’t really fit into society as it is today.
Personally I love the nights. It is like everything is more quiet and I feel a LOT more inspired from midnight to 4 AM. Most of my books are written at that time. Most of my articles and my songs too.
It is at that time I feel most connected to the ‘source’. Connected to creativity and something bigger. Meaning.
This is the time I am most productive. I wouldn’t sell these hours to an employer. I prefer to use them on my own projects.
It’s not YOU. It’s Society!
In modern society, we should be much more aware of how we use people’s resources. The short-sighted way is of course to try to make people fit in – which makes an insanely lot of money to the pharmaceutical industry and puts a lot of people in the hospitals. It is like Cindarella’s stepsisters Anastasia and Drizella. Try to cut off a toe or a heel to make the slipper fit. Many employers unfortunately still believe it works like this.
Society still favors Early Risers and makes it difficult for Late Sleepers. Read about B-Society here!
I think it is logical that if people work with things they love and feel passionate about and if they get a proper salary and if the terms are decent, we would be a lot more productive. And we would be a lot happier.
Luckily a lot of companies have realized this and have become much more flexible in order to hire the right people for their jobs.
Investing in people usually pays off. Forcing them to work under inhumane circumstances don’t.
Unfortunately most companies in the US haven’t realized this. The minimum wage is horrible and many low-paid jobs will kill you slowly.
Research suggest that being a Late Owl, or a person who tends to stay up late and sleep later in the morning, can have some potential negative consequences. Some research has suggested that being a late owl may be associated with an increased risk of certain health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. However, it is important to note that these associations do not necessarily mean that being a late owl directly causes these health problems. Many other factors, such as diet, exercise, and genetics, can also contribute to people’s risk of these health problems.
It is also worth noting that being a late owl can have social and professional consequences, as many societies and workplaces are structured around a “morning lark” schedule. This can lead to difficulties in coordinating with others or meeting the expectations of employers, which can be stressful and lead to negative outcomes.
Furthermore it is important to look at exactly how the studies have been exercised. Many studies tend to forget there is a difference if the Late Owls are permitted to live and work as Late owls or they are forced to live as Early birds.
In general, it is important to get enough sleep and to maintain a consistent sleep schedule that works for you. If you are a late owl and find that your sleep schedule is causing problems for you, it may be helpful to speak with a healthcare provider or a mental health professional for advice on how to address these issues.
Sleep Disturbances and Illnesses
Being a Night Owl in a society that demands you behave like an Early Bird makes sure almost every Night Owl doesn’t get sleep enough. This is a MAJOR cause of stress, heart disease poor concentration and Diabetes! Stress causes your immune system to go bankrupt and you will pick up any kind of disease.
It is NEVER a good idea to live by a code that isn’t yours. It is like living next to yourself. You are never really home. You are never allowed to be yourself. or express yourself. Not being centered and rooted in yourself – who you really are, causes you to be depressed.
I have said it before and I will say it again:
Working with your passion and your talents is the most centered thing you can do. AND it is the safest way to lasting success! Believe it! I even think it is the key to a long and prosperous life.
What could be worse than realizing you are going to die in just one day and you still haven’t done what you were here to do. Maybe you didn’t find your talents. Maybe you didn’t have the guts to take that leap of faith. Maybe you just worked your entire life just to get food.
I know now if I work on terms I can’t fully commit to I get stressed and sick. I also know if I work with my Passion and my Talents it fulfils me. Makes me happy and I am never stressed and I never get sick.
You simply basically need to get your sleep. If you don’t know Maslow’s Hierachy of needs you should take a look at this pyramid.
You can read more about Maslow’s hierarchy of needs here.
There are several studies that claims that owls score 25% lower on happiness. They als tend to be more satisfied in life than Owls.
But ONE thing is always missing from their search results. They do not inform us whether the Owls are working according to their inner clock or they live according to the inner clock of Morning Larks! This is a huge problem for too many of the studies I have researched and it means we cannot rely in the result. The same goes for diabetes studies related to Early Risers and Late Owls.
I think it is obvious if a Night Owl is forced to work as a Morning Lark he is not happy because of the stress this causes.
My guess is if Night Owls work according to their inner clock they are probably just as happy as Morning Larks working according to their inner clock!
But we will have to wait for a study on this to be certain.
There is one study though from the Univercity of Warsaw that indicates that trying to change your chronotype is not the way to become happier.
Intelligence and carcadian rythm
According to Satoshi Kanazawa it seems that intelligent children grow up to be Night Owls. You can go directly to his infographics that shows very bright children go to bed on 00:30 at weekdays and at 01:45 on the week-ends.
It is a very comphrensive study and I fail to see if children are intelligent because they are Late Sleepers or if they are Late Sleepers because they are intelligent. But either way, it seems Intelligence and Late Owls are connected.
Early Birds has a huge advantage. They work in a world where their carcadian rythm matches society. Late Owls don’t. For Early Birds, this is a significant advantage as they are fully present in all 8 business hours. They are where the money is.
This forces a lot of Night Owls to be independent as they don’t match the financial clock. It forced me to start this blog.
The benefits are I can work when ever I want to and I can sleep when ever I want to. In fact, the personal freedom is huge. And if I am happy wealth doesn’t mean as much.
This is why I started PassionBlogist!
I didn’t want to live in stress under terms I had no influence on. I deeply wanted to live my life on my own terms. In fact – who won’t? At this point I had a few small blogs running. They didn’t make money enough so I had to do something new. Thats when I summed up my skills, my passions and my wishses for the future!
It is a GREAT exercise! Skills, passion and wishes for the future!
I listed ALL my skills. Musician, composer, martial artist, IT geek. And it was interesting to notice that my skills and my passions were the same!
My wishes for the future started with my present situation. What I DIDN’T want! So I quickly decided to go for a future where independence, economic freedom, passion, contribution, balance laughter and love was the main ingredients. I don’t think I ever have been so happy. Yes, it took me a long time to get her and it took a lot of work – but it doesn’t matter because I’m crazy passionate about it!
I love it and I’m never going to resign from this job!
My goal is to buy a boat and sail away to foreign countries. Enjoy life. Meet new. Talk to people. They always have a story!
So what about it?
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Famous well-known night owls:
Winston Churchill, Christina Aguilera, John Travolta, Bob Dylan, Tolkien, Carl Jung, Barack Obama, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, George Clooney, Barck Obama, Charles Darwin, Pablo Picasso, Keith Richards, Hans Zimmer, and ME!
The Connection Between Animal and Human Sleep | Sleep Foundation
Danish Research (Rockwool Foundation) shows Early Risers make more money than Late Owls.
Health and Chronotype (Danish).
Test and characteristics (Danish).
Night Owls are Smarter, More Creative & have Higher IQ’s.
Keywords involved in this article:
Night Owl vs Early Bird pros and cons, Early Risers Meaning, Late Owl Meaning, Night Owl Psychology, Famous Night Owls, Facts about Waking up Early, Advantages and Disadvantages of Early Rising, Night Owl Characteristics, What is a Night Owl Person.
That was new to me but it sounds plausible.
YAY! Perfect! I will continue being a late owl for the rest of my life 🙂
Thanks a lot! Thought I was a lone weirdo. So glad you described my life so accurately.
You just opened my eyes. I am a Late owl and always felt I didn’t fit in. Thank you so much.
On time, we get more focus on the Early Risers agenda! We need to make more room for people who are different.
Don’t misunderstand me, pls, but I think there is some kind of racism towards the Laters. It is very hard to get accepted.
Thanks! Great article!
I’m an Early Riser and I can recognize your description
Great story! Love it.
It fells like slavery to me. It is as if no one understands the impact society has on people that doesn’t fit in.
WOWWWW! Pure luck I found this. Always thought I was the one to blame. You actually set me free! Thanks a loooot!
This is by far the best article I have read about circadian rhythms! Thank You soooooo much! I felt very much appreciated while reading and I am so glad I found someone who understands my sufferings. I have to get up at four thirty every day to go to work and I fear it will kill me someday. Or maybe drive me insane.
I need to do something! Thanks a bunch for this writing 🙂
Got a new job where I had to get up at 5 AM which was like torture. I lasted a month before breaking down with stress…
Tough being late sleeper