Photo by @alexagorn
Like a good number of people, I tend to wake up hours after the sun rises because staying up late requires a nap (or two) the following day and there's a reason for that. Our sleep schedules are not boiled down to merely personal preferences if you ask me, but rather our natural tendencies. Research suggests that it does not only affect us when we go to bed but also our physical and mental wellbeing.
People who prefer waking up early in the morning feel the most energetic during the day. Whereas, night owls sleep later into the day. Some even go on until after the sun has set. According to Daniel Kripke's sleep research, the difference between the two, dominant sleep patterns goes beyond a person's preferred bedtime. And it even surpasses the 'clock' inside you that monitors bodily functions like body temperature, metabolism and brain activity, to name a few. Kristen Knutson, a sleep researcher, mentions the time of the day where your mind is at peak performance depends on whether you are a morning person or a night owl.
At some point in our life, we've been told to sleep earlier because it's better for our mental and physical health. However, there are some upsides to being a night owl. A study from the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart Milan shows that those who prefer staying up late display the most creativity. In the study, participants were given an activity where they were required to come up with a picture using only straight and curved lines. Night owlers passed the test, whereas those who considered themselves as morning people failed to achieve an average score. Another study by the University of Madrid tested the skills of 1,000 teenagers and found that night owls scored the highest on the reasoning segment of the test. It is also said that night owls have better reasoning skills in comparison to morning people.
Having that in mind, being a morning person has its fair share of benefits too. Waking up earlier means there are more hours in the day to work with. This means more time to be productive and get tasks done, but that part falls under personal preference though. Waking up earlier allows us to efficiently and effectively use our time wisely rather than limiting the hours and our responsibilities. Morning people tend to have a better quality of sleep in comparison to night owls because of their consistent sleep schedule. Having a fixed sleep routine actually helps you sleep and wake up easier and makes timing more consistent. This is because people who wake up earlier than most tend to be exhausted by the end of the day. Plus, starting your day earlier increases alertness and concentration. The notion of this helps people perform their day-to-day tasks with better efficiency. It also indirectly gets work done faster because they won't have to drag on their tasks.
To see practicalities of this, I decided to ask a few friends whether they preferred to study in the morning or sleep early and wake up in the middle of the night to study. Most of them chose to study in the morning because then the study materials will be fresher in their minds and stick. This methodology allows us to concentrate better without feeling exhausted or tired.
All in all, what I'm trying to showcase is that being either a morning person or a night owl are two separate things. They both have benefits. But for obvious reasons, I encourage those reading this to sleep on time and consistently. In the long run, it affects our health if we take it for granted. Though it may be hard to sleep at the same time every day because of personal responsibilities or habits, we have to try for our own sake.
By Daniel Cheah