Your sleep habits explained
Does the early bird really get with worm? Or is being a night owl the wiser option?
Although students who spring out of bed hours before their alarm are a rarity at college, the devout larks, or early risers, may be more successful and alert throughout the day and during classes. On the other hand, the students who thrive in the wee hours of the night (AKA most of us) may be more creative and productive.
So which is better, being a morning person or being a night owl? While both sleep schedules have benefits and drawbacks, the best option really depends on your personal lifestyle. “I think sometimes people feel like you are either a morning person or a night owl, but in my experience, I’ve learned that your life can kind of dictate what type of person you are,” says Corey White, assistant professor of psychology at Syracuse University.
White says our bodies are designed to run on a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule corresponding to sunlight. Night owls, then, go against the natural human sleep pattern, which can have negative consequences. “If you’re staying up late at night, you’re putting yourself in a bad position to be focused and attentive,” White says.
Another disadvantage of being an evening person is that the nine to five workday just doesn’t fit with your desired schedule, which may cause delayed sleep phase syndrome. Those with DSPS tend to fall asleep later than most people and have difficulties getting up early in the morning, according to the Cleveland Clinic.“People who are evening persons will sometimes try to initiate sleep at times when their bodies are telling them that they shouldn’t be sleeping,” said Les A. Gellis, a visiting assistant professor of psychology at Syracuse University who focuses on sleep studies. The frustration of not being able to sleep may lead to a reliance on sleep aids or alcohol at night.
Remember in high school we all used to get up bright and early to start school at 7 or 8 a.m.? Now 9:30 classes seem early to many college students. Since these earlier classes aren’t during prime time for evening people, larks tend to get better grades in school, according to The Independent. However, the study also shows that night owls have higher levels of inductive reasoning, which is correlated with general intelligence, creativity, “prestigious” occupations and a larger mean income.
If you want to change from a night owl to a morning person, or vice versa, be prepared for a tedious journey. To transition to a morning person, White said, “You have to start waking up early in the morning. After weeks or months, if you start waking up earlier, you’re going to be more tired in the night.”
Also, Gellis recommends using melatonin to change sleep patterns. “Melatonin is a chemical that is naturally produced in the body and plays a very big role in terms of setting one’s sleep schedule, setting whether or not someone will be tired at a particular time. It’s used for changing someone’s morning or evening preference,” Gellis said.
No matter what your sleep schedule is, getting a full eight hours of sleep every night is the best way to guarantee productivity and energy throughout the day.