We all need our beauty sleep, right? But whether you’re a Morning Lark who is bright-eyed and bushy-tailed when the alarm sounds, or you’re a Night Owl who hits snooze for an extra few minutes wrapped in your duvet, depends on your biological chronotype. This means genetics dictate when you naturally feel like you want to go to bed and when you naturally feel like you want to get up.
Professor Matthew Walker of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California says “It is not your fault and it is not a choice. There are at least nine different genes that dictate your morningness or eveningness preference.”
It’s important to consider that chronotypes are not just about what time you go to bed and what time you get up in the morning, they are also about when you tend to function best. For example, Morning Larks usually do much better earlier on in the day, with society believing them to be the go-getters for success as is suggested by the saying ‘the early bird catches the worm’. This is not to say there are no advantages to being a Night Owl; they’re more productive later on and science shows that they tend to be stronger mentally and generally have higher IQs.
Furthermore, there are ongoing studies and discussions about chronobiology and chronopharmacology that suggest that some medicines may have a different potency depending on when they are taken and certain cancer treatments may have a chronotype dependency. This invites medical providers such as GPs to probe further into their patients’ chronotypes.
Interestingly, when it came to determining who fits into which group, studies showed that women generally tend to be Morning Larks, with more men being Night owls. If you’re interested in finding out your chronotype, you can take the quick and easy ‘Morningness Eveningness questionnaire‘ online.