Have you ever been called and early bird or a night owl?
Did you know that every person has something called ‘Chronotype’?
If your answer is “what is that?” I have some interesting facts for you.
A chronotype is your body’s natural tendency to fall asleep and wake up at a certain time of the day. Not everybody falls asleep when the sun goes down—chronotypes are the explanation for some people tending to stay up till the sun rises and others nodding off on the couch before ever even making it to their bed.
My family is a actually a good example of that- when my sister and I were younger and still living with our parents we were clearly in two different ‘teams’. My mum and my sister are typical early birds- on weekends my mum would wake up at 6am with no alarm clocks and start her day with my sister waking up an hour or two later. My dad and I are their opposites- our wake-up time would always be around 10am, so by the time we would get up they would have already gone for a shop and mum would be in the kitchen working on whatever she found interesting in the store.
Not gonna lie, it always made me feel guilt about it, but on weekends if we didn’t have any plans, we no one set an alarm and that was what the mornings would look like.
During the week of course we all had our responsibilities like work and school. For over 6 years I would get up at 5am to get to school, which as you can imagine was a torture for a night owl (at least at the beginning, so about first 5 years haha).
Beside the chronotype which is our ‘natural’ biological clock there is another element to our sleep schedules and that is circadian rhythm. This is what controls the day-to-day sleep-wake cycle by realising melatonin (the sleep hormone) acting on environmental cues like light and temperature. In opposite to the chronotype we can ‘train’ our circadian rhythm by strictly following schedule; the chronotype will always be the same.
This means that a natural night owl may be able to wake up at 7 am every day for work, but they may not be productive until later in the day. Similarly, an early bird may wake up bright and chipper for their 7 am shift, but then start to feel sleepy already in the late afternoon.
If you are interested in finding out what is you chronotype you can fill in this questionnaire https://chronotype-self-test.info/index.php . It’s called Automated Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (AutoMEQ) and after you go through all of the questions it will automatically calculate your score and present you with some facts about your ‘natural’ clock.
Another fun fact about chronotypes- they have animal counterparts: Lion (early bird), Bear (sun followers), Wolf (night owl) and Dolphin (insomniac) .
Mine’s a Wolf. What is yours?