28 April 2016

Circadian Rhythm - The Night Owl is Better than the Early Bird

Circadian Rhythm

Circadian rhythm refers to the natural 24 hour biological cycle that affect many living things including plants, animals, fungi, and of course humans. Our body goes through a cycle each day that determines when we naturally want to go to sleep and wake up. Light is a major factor in the the circadian rhythm of most living things. For some reason, this doesn't seem to affect the night owl.  In this article I will explain the benefits of being a night owl versus being anearly bird.

Are you a Night Owl? Your Circadian Rhythm May be to Blame

Do you have a hard time getting to sleep at night? Do you find that you have to drag yourself out of bed each morning regardless of how early you go to bed? Are you sleepy throughout the day and find yourself in need of some sleep in the middle of work? If so, then you are probably a night owl. This is probably due to your circadian rhythm. There happen to be different levels of night owls. The average night owl stays awake until around midnight, while the extreme night owl will stay up all night and sometimes until the sun rises. I happen to be an extreme night owl. If I had it my way, I would be up until 6:30 in the morning writing my hubs and sleep until five o'clock in the afternoon. Unfortunately I have a real job that I have to report to at 9 AM.

Studies Show that Night Owls Have an Advantage Over Larks

The journal Science recently published an article explaining how Night Owls have a productive advantage over Early Birds.  Early Birds may stay at an evenly productive pace throughout the day, but their basal body temperature peaks at around 2 pm or mid-afternoon and continues to drop off throughout the day.  When this happens, your body becomes increasingly pressured to sleep, and productivity and energy tapers off.  When your basal body temperature is at it's highest, that is when you will be at your most productive, and most energetic.  Brain activity for the early bird after about 10 hrs declines and continues to decline until bedtime.  Early birds also had lower performance on tests, showed signs of decreasing alertness, and began to feel sleepy at around this time. The night owl stays evenly productive throughout the day, and basal body temperature peaks at 8 PM giving the night owl and extra burst of energy and productivity in the evening.  By this time, the early bird is ready for bed.  Brain activity for the Night Owl does not slow down after 10 hrs, and no signs of decreased alertness or sluggishness is found.  The only downside to this is that our society does not support the Night Owls sleep schedule, therefore the Night Owl must conform.  The early morning schedule does not line up with the Night Owl's sleep schedule, so sometimes they may end up sleep deprived.

Night Owls Have Better Athletic Performance Capabilities

A study was done on leg strength taking 9 Night Owls and 8 Early Birds. Strength stayed the same throughout the day for both groups, but the Night Owl's strength peaked in the evening. The reason for this is that the motor cortex and spinal cord both peaked in the evenings in the Night Owls. The peaks of the motor cortex and the spinal cord happened at different times of the day for the early birds, thereby not giving the central nervous system the highest possible performance as seen in Night Owls. Now again, these boosts for the Night Owls only benefited them in the evening, and as we all know most athletic events are not occurring at night.
Some other random benefits a Night owl may have over Early Birds Include:
  • Night time shopping equals no crowd
  • Working or Playing on the internet at night gives faster server speed since most people are not online
  • People who work at night get paid more to do the same job as someone in first shift
Moral of the story is that Night Owls have advantages over the Early Birds, however they are not always able to take advantage of this in our daytime activity ruled society.

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