Everyone has their own unique circadian rhythm, and we are each genetically programmed for our natural sleep/wake timing.
Yes, it’s in your genes!
Some of us just naturally get tired early in the day and rise early with a smile on our face (early birds or larks).
But others get geared up as the evening hours lengthen, and just have a horrible time with that alarm clock (night owls).
So which is better — early bird or night owl?
Well, debating which sleep pattern is better is not actually a fair argument!
Night owls are able to become more focused as the day progresses, so that is handy and they can be really productive in the dark hours.
But early birds tend to have better quality sleep and have more adaptable and flexible personalities. And studies show that they are generally healthier.
Understand and adapt to the sleep patterns of those close to you.
If you are an early bird who wants to have a serious discussion with your partner, don’t even attempt that at 8 AM if your partner is a night owl. It’s just not going to work out well.
If you think about your family’s characteristics, you may recognize that you are quite like your mother or father in your sleep patterns. It’s also interesting that overall, women tend to be early birds, while men lean toward being night owls, but that is just a generalization.
And in spite of your genetic inclination, your circadian rhythm likely may change over your lifetime, mostly related to hormonal shifts and developmental growth changes.
Most children are early birds but then transition to night owls in their teenage years. We settle into our natural genetic pattern as adults. And typically in later age, people tend to go to bed earlier.
Know that these innate patterns are quite difficult to resist and change.
I want you to have some compassion with yourself if you groan when your alarm goes off, and your partner jumps up energized and ready to charge out into the day.
And also have compassion for them when you are trying to have an evening conversation and they seem disinterested and groggy.
Accept the wisdom of your intelligent sleep tendencies, and plan important conversations and interactions when you are both alert.
Dr. Chris Carruthers is a sleep health champion providing individuals with the information and skills they need to take smart action to overcome insomnia and conquer fatigue.
With a lifetime career in healthcare and recovered after 7.5 years of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia, Chris shares her sleep strategies through speaking, coaching and her signature program, The Sleep Well Tonight Method.