Am I morning person (lark) or evening person (owl)?
What is a normal sleep-wake cycle (SWC)?
SWC refers to your 24 – hour pattern of approximately 16 hours of daytime wakefulness and 8 hours of night-time sleep (based on your sleep r equirement) (link to how much sleep do I need). The SWC is controlled your body’s circadian clock, (link to learn about your sleep, circadian rhythms) and your sleep homeostasis (accumulated sleep drive which builds during time spent awake).
Most adults have their lowest energy period between 2am – 4am (when you are most likely asleep) and again between 1pm to 3pm, during the post-lunch period. These times will differ based on your ‘morningness/ eveningness’.
Am I a lark (morning person) or an owl (evening person)?
Not all people’s circadian rhythm follows the same rest-activity pattern. At the 2 extremes are the early risers (who wake up with the larks) and the late night folks (who stay up with the owls). Most people have a tendency towards one end of the scale, though some people can be neither type.
For instance, someone who is always awake by 5:00am, even during holidays, and asleep by 9pm is a lark. On the other hand, one who can stay up all night and sleep till 3pm if left alone is definitely an owl.
If you love waking up early and feel the most energetic in the first part of the day, you are most likely a morning person. On the other hand, evening (or night) people like to wake up later and feel their best in the late afternoon or evening. They often describe a ‘second wind’ of energy in the evening or night.
A scientific term for your time preferences is called chronotypes.
Take a test to understand your chronotype: https://www.cet-surveys.com/index.php?sid=61524
Is your result what you expected? Some people may be surprised. For example, many owls develop a routine of going to bed early so that they can wake up in time for work or to take care of children in the morning. This shows how circumstances can overshadow our natural pattern.
Many times, owls are labelled as ‘lazy’ since they wake up late. Similarly, Larks are viewed as having no stamina or energy, if they choose to go home early rather than going out for a party or movie. Recognizing that different chronotypes have different ‘time tables’, will help you appreciate that this is not true.
Have you struggled trying to adapt to early or late activities or work patterns? Now is your chance to embrace your optimum creative time period, using your awareness of chronotypes. For instance, don’t bother freeing up time in the evening for important work, if you are a morning person. Similarly, don’t wake up an hour early to do work, if you are an evening person. It will take you that much time just to feel awake.