Early Birds versus Night Owls

by Krishna on May 31, 2009

via Mark Hurst, here is an article on morning persons versus evening people from Health News:

People who keep late hours and feel more alert in the evening may have a natural advantage over those who rise at the crack of dawn and struggle to stay alert and productive in the later hours of the day. […] While early birds experience a drop in daytime alertness by mid to late afternoon, night owls seem to handle sleep pressure better and can remain productive for a much longer period of time. […]

However, late-night people may not fare so well outside of the lab. According to Peigneux, “Morning types may be at an advantage, because their schedule is fitting better with the usual work schedule of the society.” He also added, “It may represent a problem for evening types obliged to wake up early while having difficulties going to bed in the evening, eventually leading to a sleep debt.” In addition, early risers experience a faster dissipation of sleep pressure when they do sleep and they feel restored more quickly than late night people.

My personal experiences agree with this. I am an evening person and find my most productive hours are after 4 pm. I do get a lot of work done before then, but those are mostly one-off tasks. I find that tasks that require a lot of concentration are better tackled in the afternoons and evenings. This is true for such tasks as design, programming and writing which require more thinking.

However, I have seen that this is the reverse for many people. They do their best creative work waking up early in the morning, say 4 am, and completing it before other people wake up. From what I have read, many CEOs of large corporations follow this model because that is the time with the least interruptions.

I think it ultimately depends on the kind of work you do and how it fits in with your life and work. Generally speaking, morning people have a schedule that works better with most office practices and family lifestyles. I have noticed that the older you get, the more you have to change from an evening person to a morning person.

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