January is the month for New Year’s resolutions and other failed self-improvement efforts. And what better way to make your life richer than waking up early to seize the day?
At least that’s what the voice in my head said when I went off my tenth snooze alarm at 9:30 am. Then it was time to get up, feeling guilty about my laziness, as if sleeping was some kind of moral misstep.
Of course not. People’s sleep/wake cycles are inherently different, and if you too are a late sleeper and an early riser, you’re simply a night owl or, clinically speaking, you’re in a delayed sleep stage.
It’s time to end the shame of this circadian rhythm. Centuries ago, Benjamin Franklin made the remarkably biased claim that “early to bed and early to rise makes people healthier, wealthier and smarter.” In her 2018 essay for Cut, Edith Zimmerman writes: You feel superior, you are self-righteous. As one Reddit user recently put it succinctly, “Staying up late sucks.” “What are your sleep habits? [obstacle] In the course of all planning that should always be avoided. ”
But don’t worry if you’re a night owl. As Robin Williams once said to Matt Damon, it’s not your fault. Your daily sleep and wake schedule, called your chronotype, seems to be mostly genetic. Experts who spoke to The Guardian had heard an estimate of around 15%, but a recent study in Finland found that 10% of men and 12% of women are “night owls.” I was. A 2007 study found that the most common chronotype slept between 12:09 am and 8:18 am in the absence of “social obligations,” while half the population slept after that time. Either way, night owls: you are not alone.
Our chronotypes are “part of who we are,” says Dr. Beth Ann Mallow, a neurologist and sleep expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. , it’s not like, ‘I’m going to choose to stay up late, I’m lazy.’ It’s a biological preference.”
Dr. Phil Gehrman, a clinical psychologist who specializes in behavioral sleep medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, agrees. The prejudice against staying up late is “purely cultural,” he said, quoting Franklin, who helped found his college. I was also a proponent of something similar.)
A 9 to 5 schedule may be good for early risers, but not for those who need to go to bed late. And it may not be just owls. Dr. Matthias Bassner, director of the Penn University Unit at Penn University, wrote in an email to The Guardian.
Problems arise when you have a job or class that doesn’t fit your circadian rhythm. When the obligations of waking life clash so badly with one’s sleep schedule that it becomes difficult to function, night owls find it difficult to function in a person’s circadian rhythm, a tendency known as delayed sleep-wake phase disorder. Approximately 0.2% to 1.7% of adults have this condition.
“The funny thing is whether a person’s sleep habits are considered a disorder or just a trend depends more on lifestyle and employment than anything else,” Murrow says.
According to Malow, treatment often begins by seeing if people can adjust their work schedules to match their biological rhythms. She describes a patient who suffered during her high school days but blossomed when she started working as a chef. Or students who can sign up for late classes.
In an ideal world, she says, we wouldn’t be so rigid about work start times. [patients] Stick to a consistent schedule of going to bed at 2:00 and waking up at 10:00 or 11:00. Of course, many people are not lucky enough to have such a shift as an option. In that case, the disorder can be treated with light exposure, melatonin, and exercise. coined the term “circadian flexibility”).
But beyond concerns about work schedules, does waking up early have any underlying health benefits? For example, research suggests a link between staying up late and poor mental health and unhappiness. But according to Gehrmann, the jury is still very inconclusive on this one.
“There are many epidemiological studies showing that night owls have higher rates of depression, anxiety, etc. But the open question is: Are you a night owl? Or is it the fact that most night owls are forced to follow schedules that are ahead of their circadian rhythms, a recent study points to the latter, he says? : “It’s certainly not conclusive, but that’s what we think is happening.”
In short, if you’re a night owl, don’t feel bad about it. If you’re an early riser, take it easy on your night owl friends. In fact, by portraying night owls as lazy, you might just be endorsing The Man: British researcher Dr. Paul Kelly says it’s suitable for bosses in their 50s, so we I’m guessing he sticks to a schedule from her 9 to 5. up first.
“We believe that following a schedule is bad for us, so we shouldn’t change it,” says Gehrman. “As humans, we always seem to say that if someone is different from us, it’s wrong.
“I think you should look at differences in circadian rhythms the same way you look at other differences in people.” So don’t come to us at your discretion — especially before noon.