I have this friend who can change the world before 6am, my partner can do dishes, laundry and make breakfast by the time the first rooster crows, and my sister insists that the best time to work out is before the sun is up.

I, on the other hand, can sleep on a rock in the middle of a desert, and still push the snooze button.

We live in a world designed to favour morning people. Most companies start the work day from 8 in the morning, and having a 9am meeting is nothing unusual, while a 9pm meeting is just rude.

A multitude of famous entrepreneurs and business people often gloat about how much work they get done before the world wakes up.

Early birds catch the worm. Or do they?

Why are you a morning or night person?

I regularly hear people say that they don’t mind getting up early, seeing has they’ve been doing so their entire lives. If sleeping patterns are purely based on habit, then why, after 12 years in school and a decade of having a day job, do I still hate everything that comes before my second cup of morning coffee?

According to Katherine Sharkey, MD, PhD, assistant professor of internal medicine and psychiatry at Brown University, we all have an internal 24-hour clock that can be affected by a number of aspects.

Women, for example, are more likely to be morning people than men, while teenagers are more likely to be night owls than adults.

Everyone has a natural cycle, their circadian rhythm, which tells your body when to sleep and when to wake up. Some people have a slightly longer or shorter natural cycle than others. According to a study by genetics company, 23andMe, this internal clock can also be influenced by genes.

Night owl vs early birds

Are there any benefits to being a night owl?

We are generally aware of the benefits of being an early riser. We can see those benefits through our droopy eyes, when we drive past them on their early morning run. Early risers are generally seen as being more proactive, and numerous studies indicate that they are less prone to addiction.

Luckily, your success does not have to be determined by what time you decide to get out of bed. There are plenty of worms for everyone:

  • The University of Barcelona did a study that showed that while early risers tend to be perfectionists, night owls are go-getters.
  • Psychologist Richard D. Roberts and Patrick C. Kyllonen are just some of the researchers who have found that evening people tend to have high cognitive abilities. A study by the University of Madrid had the same findings.
  • Since the business world favours early risers, night owls are more likely to be adaptable. While most night owls have no choice but to wake up early for work, morning people find it much more difficult to stay focussed late at night when circumstances require it.
  • Southampton University in England did a study in the 90s that showed no proof that morning people were richer or healthier than those who preferred to lie in a little later.

Benjamin Franklin famously said “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” While philosopher Aristotle declared “It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.”

There are, undeniably, benefits to rising with a smile on your face. That is, however, not to say that success and happiness are exclusively reserved for early birds. While some people get loads done in the quiet times before the world wakes up, others get just as much done after the world has already gone to bed.

About The Author

Enrique Grobbelaar

Enrique is the eternal entrepreneur: his first venture was selling off his parents’ household goods at bargain prices to their neighbours at age seven. All other endeavours thus far have been entirely above board.

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