The Genes Behind Early Risers and Night Owl


Do you love to wake up with sun? Or, do you stay up long hours into the night and dread an early morning alarm clock? Chances are that you fall somewhere in between a true night owl and early bird. But, whether you fear the alarm clock or never need it may have something to do with your genes.

The Science

National Geographic News reported on a study that looked at genes in skin cells that mimicked the brain’s internal clock. According to National Geographic, “The study reveals that genes, not just environmental factors such as day length, have a major influence on our circadian clock”  This means your preference for when you go to bed and when wake up may be predetermined by your body.

Bad News

This can be tough news to night owls because the world is generally geared towards morning people. Most people work between 8 am and 6 pm. Many retailers, customer service hotlines, banks, government offices and more have hours that count on people accomplishing their daily errands early in the day.

Good News

There is also good news for nightowls. According to a study sited by Rodale News night owls are better at staying awake and engaged in tasks longer throughout the day. When early birds begin to lose focus and feel sleepy, night owls often have the stamina to keep going even when both groups of people have slept for the same amount of hours during the night.

Changing the Habit

If your schedule permits it, there is nothing wrong with being either a morning person or a night person as long as you get enough sleep. However, there may be times in your life when you need to move outside your preference and still get a good night of sleep. To change your sleep habits try going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. It may be hard at first and you may want to use weekends to stay up late or sleep early, but eventually your body will get the hang of things and adapt. Having a comfortable sleeping space and a nightly routine will also help you sleep well at night.

What are You?

Are you an early bird or a night owl? How do you adjust to accommodate the demands of your schedule?

Photo “Sunrise” courtesy of Andy Right

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