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Early bird or night owl: which are you?

The holistic effect of our sleeping patterns has become a subject of interest in recent years. Emphasis has been made on the distinction between individuals who wake up and function best in the morning (early birds), and those for whom these internal states are reversed; where night time is favoured (owls). Those who are early birds go to bed early, while night owls go to bed late and sleep in longer.

A number of theories as to the differences between the two types have emerged. Most have hypothesized that they are potentially caused a range of factors such as genes, hormones or chemical differences. Also very possible is that has everyone has their own “internal clock”.



It has been considered that one’s innate preferences regarding sleeping may have an impact on their health, personality and lifestyle. “Birds” are said to experience more success with planning and seeing projects through. They are disrupted less, while “owls” tend to be day dreamers. Often creative, they may work in artistic fields while birds adapt quite easily to a conventional work life and schedule. For owls, night time is peaceful and provides inspiration.

It would seem that early birds are more productive than night owls, primarily because their ability to wake up early and “get the job done” predisposes them to success. With a higher immunity to stress, birds reportedly have lower heart rates than owls, less occurrence of sleep apnoea and healthier weight. The latter is likely based on the assumption that owls partake in late night eating, and that there is a higher rate of depression and addiction among this group. Positively for them, however, concentration levels increase as the day goes by. Early birds by contrast normally feel a decrease.



It is interesting to note that the eyes and ears of the owl are formulated in such a way that it is possible for them to be awake at night. They absorb much more light than humans do. Symbolically speaking they are emblematic of a cultural dichotomy, having been represented as a creature who warns of pending misfortune (possibly due to their nocturnal “hoo hoo” noises), and also one of knowledge and wisdom.

What are you – it may be asked –  if you fall into neither category?

The answer: a “happy hummingbird!”


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About Judith Brown

I did an MA in English literature at Kings College London where I wrote a dissertation on representations of characters with learning difficulties. I am very imaginative and write on a range of topics. I like to read, listen to music and draw.

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