I have always had trouble waking up early in the morning. When I was a child, my parents used to tell me that one day I would get used to getting up early but here I am. 27 years old and despite the fact that I’ve been forced to be an early riser for most of my life, I still do not think that I would ever get used to the aggressive sound of my alarm going off at 7 am.
Am I just lazy? Honestly, I do not think so. And I hate when people tell me things such as “Rise and shine” – or even worse, in my country, they would usually say “the sun is hitting your tummy” and with the kind of intonation that will make you feel like you are the laziest person on earth.
For some reason, nobody would ever tease someone for getting up too early in the morning or for going to bed at 8 pm. Please do not get me wrong, I really do not mean that we should start bullying early birds, I am just saying that society should really be more accepting towards night owls.
Because at the end of the day, can a night owl become an early bird or the other way around?
Well, the internet is full of articles about how to become an early riser or how to change your sleeping habits but honestly, I do not think it is something that one can do. Over time, our bodies may change and there are many people who find themselves turning into early birds as they age. But my experience is that forcing yourself to become a morning person will not work.
And well, I may sound like a guy who has tried way too hard and failed and who just wants to find excuses for not wanting to integrate into a society that considers “eveningness” as a flaw and “morningness” as a virtue. But I think there is an explanation for my behavior: Chronotypes
What Is A Chronotype?
“Every person has a master biological clock ticking away inside of their brain, and dozens of smaller biological clocks throughout his or her body.
But, unlike a normal clock, not every person’s biological clock keeps the same time or even at the same pace. If you’ve ever heard someone say, “I’m not a morning person”, well there’s a reason for that. Some people are meant to be more productive in the morning than at night, and vice versa.“
Source: Michael Breus, The Power Of When
Michael Breus’s research breaks chronotypes into four categories and describes them with the names of animals:
Now, what do these categories mean? That’s something I would like to explore in today’s article.
What is my Chronotype? Take the quiz here! (The Power Of When)
This chronotype often has trouble waking up in the morning. Wolves tend to be most active in the early evening hours.
And as you might have guessed: I am a wolf. So, I will talk about this chronotype in a little bit more detail. Not because I think it is more common or more important than the other ones but I just love sharing my personal experience (hope you’ll apologize me for that.)
Being a wolf feels like having constant jet lag. I usually set multiple alarms and when they go off, I will feel like being struck by lightning. My aunt too is a wolf and she once told me that she felt like “fighting for her life” every single morning. And well, I know this may sound overly dramatic but I completely agree with her. Some people say that if I were more “motivated”, I would be able to get up more easily but believe me, that just does not help. Like when I am on holidays, I am excited to explore new places and visit all the sights but this doesn’t mean that I am able to get out of bed before 10 am.
And getting up early is just the beginning. Because then, there are the morning meetings – “’cause we all know that people are more energetic in the morning”, so let’s just schedule a meeting for 9 am. Or back at school, it was the same story with the exams – our teachers used to tell us that our brains were “more active” in the morning hours so it would be best to take all the exams at 7 am. 7 AM!!!!!! At 7 am, I usually feel like a truck ran over me.
Anyways. Over the years, I have managed to get to know myself and I have learnt that the best time for me to work on an important project is at late afternoon/early evening or at night. And I have also learnt to accept myself – (I am suffering from OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and from GAD (Generalized Anxiety Disorder), so the combination of these 2 disorders made me believe that I was a lazy person who will never be able to have a normal life and that I will get fired over my early morning sleepiness.)
Am I alone with the problems that I have just described? Of course I am not!
About 15-20 percent of the population fall into the wolf chronotype category.
Over 50% of the population falls into this category. Bears’ internal clocks track the rise and fall of the sun and they are most active and alert in the middle of the morning but often struggle with the mid-afternoon slump.
And as this is the most common chronotype, it’s no surprise that bears are likely to do best working traditional hours. I am proud to be a wolf and I think one should never want to change oneself but….secretly I have always envied bears – well, except for the part about the mid-afternoon slump ’cause that’s something that I do not have.
We could say that lions are the opposite of wolves. They may easily wake up before dawn and are at their best up until noon. Lions usually fall asleep by 9 pm or 10 pm. About 15 to 20 % of the population fall into this chronotype category.
And well….one of my best friends is a lion which means we often end up “fighting” over our schedule while being on holidays. She normally tells me that if we get up early, we will have more time to see things (and well, there’s another fantastic Hungarian proverb that’s one of her favorites “who wakes up early, will find gold – it has pretty much the same meaning as “the early bird gets the worm”) – and I obviously do not agree with this statement ’cause if we wake up early, we will need to go to sleep early, so at the end of the day we spend the same amount of time awake.
How do we manage to enjoy our time together despite our different sleeping patterns? Well, we obviously need to compromise and what we normally do is “becoming bears” – ’cause that’s exactly in the middle.
I just love this cute dolphin picture I’ve found on Pexels. Dolphins are just so adorable but wait, where was I? Yes, I was speaking about chronotypes.
Dolphins have trouble following any sleep schedule but they normally have a peak productivity window from 10 am to 2 pm. They are light sleepers, who are often diagnosed with insomnia. About 10% of the population are dolphins.
Today’s post was a little bit different from the ones I normally publish but I personally think that there’s a strong correlation between mental health and chronotypes. And that’s the reason why I wanted to raise awareness of this topic. Every one of us is different in some way and that’s what makes the world a beautiful place. I do not think we should “categorize” people but it’s important to be aware of the fact that there are different chronotypes and that we should stop criticizing those who do not have the same sleeping habits as we do. The good news is that society is becoming more and more open and there are a lot of workplaces that started to provide more flexibility.
- Chronotypes, Sleep and Productivity (Healthline)
- The Power Of When Quiz
- I had a ‘sleep doctor’ tell me how to structure my entire day, and I’ve never felt more energized (Business Insider)
- Night Owl Chronotype Linked To Higher Mental Health Risks (Sleep Review)
- Want More Productive Employees? Match Their Work Schedules to Their Internal Clocks (Inc.com)
May Interest You (From Mark Wester)
- Laziness Does Not Exist – 10 Reasons Why We Procrastinate
- Hatred From An Unlikely Source – Internalized Homophobia
- Creativity & Mental Health – 5 Artists Who Lived With Mental Illness
- Coping With OCD At Work
- Peace At The Bottom Of a Bottle – OCD & Alcohol
Share Your Thoughts
As you know, there is one thing that I enjoy more than writing my stories – reading yours. What’s your chronotype? And how does it impact your daily life? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comment section!