When Does the Day Begin for You?
ー When asked “Are you a morning person?” some reply “No, I’m a night
owl.” Such people can concentrate and create at night. At the other end of
the clock, a well-known proverb claims: “The early bird catches the warm,”
which means that waking early is the way to get food, win prices, and reach
goals. The lark is a morning singer, so early birds, the opposite of owls, are
larks. Creatures active during the day are “diurnal” and those emerging at
night are “nocturnal.”
ー Yet another proverb states: “Early to bed, early to rise makes a man
healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Larks may jump out of bed and welcome the
morning with a big breakfast, while owls hit the snooze button, getting ready
at the last minute, usually without breakfast. They may have fewer meals,
but they eat late in the day. Not exercising after meals can cause weight
gain. Perhaps larks are healthier. Owls must work or learn on the lark
schedule. Most schooling occurs before 4:00 p.m., so young larks may
perform certain tasks better. Business deals made early in the day may make
some larks wealthier.
ー What makes one person a lark and another an owl? One theory suggests
preference for day or night has to do with time of birth. In 2010, Cleveland
State University researchers found evidence that not only does a person’s
internal clock start at the moment of birth, but that those born at night
might have lifelong challenges performing during daytime hours. Usually,
their world experience begins with darkness. Since traditional study time
and office work happen in daylight, we assume that day begins in the
morning. People asleep are not first in line, and might miss chances.
ー Does everyone follow the system of beginning days in the morning? The
Jewish people, an approximately 6,000-year-old religious group, believe a
day is measured from sundown until the following sundown-from eve to eve.
Christians continue this tradition with Christian Eve. The Chinese use their
system of 12 animals not only to mark years, but to separate each two-
hour period of the day. Chinese culture also begins the day at night. In
other words, ancient customs support how owls view time.
ー Research indicates owls are smarter and more creative. So, perhaps larks
are not always wiser! That is to say, larks win “healthy” and sometimes
“wealthy,” but they may lose “wise.” In an early report, Richard D. Roberts
and Patrick C. Kyllonen state that owls tend to be more intelligent. A later,
comprehensive study by Franzis Preckel, for which Roberts was one of
the co-authors, came to the same conclusion. It is not all good news for
owls, though. Not only can schoolwork be a challenge, but they may miss
daytime career opportunities and are more likely to enjoy the bad habits
of “nightlife,” playing at night while larks sleep. Nightlife tends to expensive.
A University of Barcelona study suggests larks are precise, seek perfection,
and feel little stress. Owls seek new adventures and exciting leisure activities,
yet they often have trouble relaxing.
ー Can people change? While the results are not all in, studies of young
adults seem to say no, we are hard-wired. So, as young people grow and
acquire more freedom, they end up returning to their lark or owl nature.
However, concerns arise that this categorization may not fit everyone. In
addition to time of birth possibly being an indication, a report published in
Nature Communications suggests that DNA may also affect our habits
concerning time. Other works focus on changes occurring in some people
due to aging or illness. New research in this area appears all the time. A
study of university students in Russia suggests that there are six types,
so owls and larks may not be the only birds around!