Night Owls VS. Early Birds: Who Has It Better?
October 31st, 2016 by Lauren Tharp
The Early Bird has been praised for centuries. After all, they “get the worm” and are “healthy, wealthy, and wise.” But do they really have it better? After all, “the second mouse gets the cheese.” And who wouldn’t favor a late night cheese over an early morning helping of worm?
Let’s finally put the “Night Owl VS. Early Bird” argument to rest, shall we? There are pros and cons to both – let’s see who really has it better!
Pros and Cons of Being an Early Bird
Pro: Life Takes Place in the Day
Early Birds tend to get better grades in school than Night Owls. This is because school, for the most part, takes place during the day (when Night Owls are feeling sluggish).
A 2008 study showed that early birds scored a full GPA point higher than their late-rising counterparts. This potentially gives Early Birds an advantage when it comes to furthering their education and eventually choosing their careers. And since most careers also take place during daylight hours, Early Birds have an advantage there too (most Night Owls tend to be freelancers who set their own hours).
Early Birds also have an easier time when it comes to parenting as children are generally awake and active during the day (even those who would “prefer” to stay up late). So taking kids to school or going to PTA meetings becomes far less challenging. Not that Night Owls can’t make great parents – it’s just far more difficult for them.
Con: Early Birds Get No Sudden Burst of Energy
Night Owls tend to wake up feeling pretty good and then get better as the night progresses – with a sudden burst of energy during their peak hours. Early Birds, on the other hand, wake up at their optimum levels and gradually get more ragged as the day progresses.
Throughout the day, sleep pressure begins to affect Early Birds. They wake up full of pep and then they get more and more tired as the day progresses, and their ability to perform tasks begins to wane.
Pro: Early Birds are More Proactive
Even though their energy diminishes throughout the day, Early Birds tend to be more efficient with the energy they do have and are more proactive about making goals and following through on plans.
As one study stated: “Morning people anticipate problems and try to minimize them… They’re proactive. A number of studies have linked this trait, pro-activity, with better job performance, greater career success, and higher wages.”
Con: Early Birds Need More Sleep
The sleep Early Birds get tends to be better than what Night Owl’s receive; however, if they don’t get enough, their tails noticeably drag.
Early Birds are more likely to need – and take – naps.
Pro: Early Birds are Healthier Overall
Here’s one of our favorite things about Morning Larks: They’re much more likely to exercise!
So Early Birds have a pretty good shot at “wealthy” since they can more easily obtain jobs, and they’ve definitely got “healthy” under their belts. But what about “wise?”
That goes to the wise (night) owls…
Pros and Cons of Being a Night Owl
Pro: Night Owls are More Intelligent
“More intelligent individuals are more likely to be nocturnal than less intelligent individuals,” states one study.
Another study agrees, delving into deeper details: “Those with a childhood IQ of less than 75 (‘very dull’) go to bed around 23:41 on weeknights in early adulthood, whereas those with a childhood IQ of over 125 (‘very bright’) go to bed around 00:29.”
Some even went so far as to say night owls are more highly-evolved!
Con: Night Owls are More Depressed
Night owls tend to be prone to a host of different health and mood disorders, including just a general sense of mental instability; however, depression was by far the most common shared trait next to obesity (since, unlike Early Birds, Night Owls tend to shy away from exercise).
This depression is mainly due to a phenomenon labeled “social jetlag.” The actual definition is a bit complex, but, at its core, social jetlag is what happens when your biological needs (waking up late and going to bed even later) don’t match with societal “norms.”
Basically: It’s tough being a Night Owl in an Early Bird world!
Pro: Night Owls Have More Stamina
Yeah, Night Owls do have more sex; however, we’re talking about “stamina” in terms of overall focus. Night Owls have the ability to remain focused better and longer than Early Birds. Basically, while Early Birds “buckle under sleep pressure,” Night Owls continue to stay at heightened levels of alertness long into the night. When it comes to tasks requiring sustained attention, Night Owls are the clear winners.
Con: Night Owls Struggle with Non-Work Activities
Like we said earlier: Life tends to take place during the day. Which means Night Owls often struggle – and end up burning the candle at both ends – when they try to squeeze in non-work activities (like socializing or shopping for groceries) into their days.
Night Owls often suffer from loneliness and self-imposed isolation, adding to their risk of depression.
Pro: Night Owls are Generally More Productive
Though both Night Owls and Early Birds perform similarly toward the beginning of their work days, Early Birds tire out more quickly — leaving them less productive overall. Not only do Night Owls sleep later in the day, they need less sleep overall. They also have the advantage of a sudden “burst” of energy once they hit their rhythm later on in in the night.
So Who Won?
We’re all winners here!