Some controversy has surrounded the topic of being an early bird or a night owl. Many celebrities such as Richard Branson, Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, Gwyneth Paltrow, and even French emperor Napoleon Bonaparte proclaim that waking up early is the secret to success.
Being an early bird does have benefits. According to scientific research, the sleeping patterns of early birds are in line with the rise and fall of the sun, also resonating with the circadian rhythm. Falling asleep early, and waking up as the sun rises generally leads to better health.
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In contrast, night owls, who are known to sleep later in the evening, sometimes early morning, are prone to insomnia, which can heighten feelings of depression and anxiety. This is later worsened with drug use - sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication, and alcohol.
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However, there are also a few downsides of being an early riser. By the afternoon, early birds are usually tired and fatigued, which can lead to poor concentration, irritability, mood swings, and a low level of motivation. This can impact your work, school and general day duties.Night owls however, sustain their energy for a lot longer, which proves to be a positive in terms of getting things done properly.
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Although insomnia can lead to feelings of anxiety during the night, rising early has similar effects. Researchers from the University of Westminster discovered that waking up early is stressful for the body and is more likely to lead to muscle aches, headaches, cold symptoms and bad moods. An analysis of saliva from this research from 42 volunteers proves that the early risers had higher levels of the body's main stress hormone (cortisol).
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Additionally, it seems that night owls tend to be smarter than early birds. A study from 2009 by the London School of Economics and Political Science states that nocturnal thinking wasn't a usual activity among our ancestors. In order to break the genetic and conventional method of going to bed with the sun, an intelligent human challenged this ideal, and due to this innovative approach, researchers found that novel thinkers and creative and inquisitive persons tend to go to bed later.
And unlike early birds who burn out by the afternoon, night owls get a prolonged boost of energy and this allows them stay alert throughout the day.
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Contrarily, research has found that night owls are doing damage to their genes because their bodies aren't aligned with the rise and fall of the sun. As mentioned before, the circadian rhythm is extremely important in maintaining a healthy body and lifestyle. This alteration in waking and sleeping cycles can disrupt the genes profoundly, particularly if you work night shifts and your body has become accustomed to this late routine.
In conclusion, there are positives and negatives to being an early bird and a night owl. Ultimately, getting enough quality sleep for your body is the key in functioning optimally and for overall good health. Approximately 7-9 hours of sleep a night is preferred, whilst maintaining a consistent sleep and wake cycle, even on the weekends.