Most of us live in a 9 to 5 world, where you are expected to be awake during that time, which means sleeping at night and be awake in the morning.
Unfortunately, not everyone can do this. For a certain kind of people, night represents a busy time, and their minds can be alert and creative, still working when everyone else wants to sleep. They feel tired at later hours (from 1 AM to 3 AM) and wake up around midday, with their energy surging later in the evening. Consequently, mornings are incredibly fatiguing for them and waking up at a “normal” time affects not only their productivity but also their mood and their health.
Known as Night Owls (scientifically, people who are affected by a delayed sleep phase wake disorder), society sees them as lazy, odd and packed with unhealthy habits, but the cause of their different sleeping patterns could be influenced, as only recently discovered, by genetics.
Night Owls sleeping patterns
All organisms have internal body cloaks that help them regulate their functions, and for humans, the Circadian rhythm represents the cloak that regulates the sleep-wake cycle. And it can differentiate from person to person for a number of factors, among which genetic predispositions.
Referred as Chronotypes, we can differentiate among three main categories:
- Early risers (called Morning Larks, 10% of the population)
- Late sleepers (the Night Owls, 2-3%)
- And the majority of Inbetweeners
Downside for Night Owls
In ancient times, different sleep patterns would actually be an advantage for the tribes of primitive men, as it would mean awoke guarding soldiers at all times. Recently, although, following the industrialization of society, a category of people has fallen under the prejudice of laziness and oddness and forced to change habits accordingly.
To alter your Chronotype is also neither healthy nor sustainable, leaving you in a state of chronic jetlag, fatigues and habits will tend to revert any change you may undergo.
Moreover, in modern times our sleep patterns have been reacting to the strong presence of electric illumination. Specifically blue light (the kind of light perceived by our brain as daytime light and associated with the sun) has entered our realities through the monitors of our Tvs, Smartphones and Personal Computers, altering our perception of the day-night cycle.
Acknowledging Night Owls
Fortunately, society is beginning to acknowledge these different habits and include them in its structure. For employers, in particular, scheduling a flexible working time that recognizes the Chronotypes of its employees could actually result in a surge for productivity and certainly relieve high levels of pressure for the workforce, and thus proving incorrect the saying “The early bird gets the worm”