“Lose an hour in the morning, and you will be all day hunting for it”.
This quote will resonate with many, yet others might quite happily lose that hour within the comfort of sleep and not be particularly bothered about gaining it back.
The time at which a person wakes up has been widely studied. When and how long you sleep for can be scientifically linked to your mental and physical wellbeing and even your career prospects.
Studies have shown much evidence in favour of the early risers, with waking up early improving your chances of success in life, helping you to achieve better grades, enabling you to get into better universities and thus bettering your employment prospects.
Early risers are more proactive and anticipate problems quicker. It is argued that their physical wellbeing improves as they have more time for workouts in the morning before their class or job. It is also said that their mental wellbeing is improved as they’re less stressed, due to having more time each day to complete tasks assigned to them. Early risers have even been proven to be and feel more physically attractive.
For any night owls wishing to become an early riser the trick is this: set a schedule and stick to it. Aim to start waking up earlier than you normally do, first set a goal for fifteen minutes, then twenty, and so on until you reach your ideal wake up time. And always try to get to bed by nine in the evening, even if you don’t feel tired.
“I often think that the night is more alive and more richly coloured than the day”, said Vincent Van Gogh, and many would agree. However, other studies have provided a counter-argument to the benefits of early rising.
Professor Jim Horne of Loughborough University comments that evening types tend to be the more extrovert and creative – the poets, artists and inventors – while morning types are the deducers, as often seen with civil servants and accountants. Famous night owls include Elvis Presley, Winston Churchill and Charles Darwin.
A study by the Complutense University of Madrid involving nearly one thousand students revealed that on inductive reasoning night owls scored higher than early risers. Inductive reasoning has been shown to be a good estimate of general intelligence and one of the strongest predictors of academic performance. It is also associated with those who achieve better jobs with higher wages.
Although, what if being a consistent night owl or early riser is irrelevant to achieving your best possible self? Sleep expert Dr Paul Kelley of Oxford University claims that circadian rhythms controlling your twenty-four hour body clock vary over the course of someone’s life.
This means that the ideal time to wake up varies according to how old you are. Certain activities are better at certain times of the day with regard to your age. For example, the ideal time for sex for those in their twenties is 3pm, whereas for people in their thirties the ideal time is 8:20am. People in their twenties are recommended to go to bed at 1am whereas for people in their thirties it is earlier, at 11:40pm.
The question remains, which studies should we believe? Do we really wake up early and appreciate the beauty of the morning, or is it overrated and we should remain awake during the night. Are you really more creative by staying up late or are you simply not taking advantage of the next morning because you have slept in?
Scientists have even found evidence of a ‘wake up’ gene responsible for activating the body’s biological clock in the morning, so the answer to someone’s sleeping pattern may simply lie in their genetics.
Whether this is true or not, and whether or not we rise early or stay up late, perhaps the answer to finding our ideal sleeping pattern lies in doing what makes us feel happy. In the immortal words of The Office US’ Michael Scott, “I’m an early bird and a night owl. So I’m wise and I have worms.”
Image: Amber Young