I am an "Owl". See second article below for my vindication!
Are You an Owl or a Lark?
Christine Haran - http://www.healthvideo.com/article.p...d%20Conditions
Do you find that you're most alert after everyone else has turned in for the night? Or are you the type to hit the deserted streets for a run at 5:30 a.m.? While all humans are essentially programmed to sleep at night and be active during the day, some people have a marked morning or evening preference.
"There's really a spectrum from morningness to eveningness," says Dr. Jamie Zeitzer, a fellow in the Sleep Research Center at Stanford University in California. "Most people fall in the middle, but there are people who are on each extreme."
Researchers believe that owls—a term for people who like to stay up late—and larks—people who like to get up early—have their body clocks set to different schedules. The body clock, also described as the body's circadian rhythm, controls sleep-wake patterns by regulating body temperature and hormones such as melatonin and cortisol.
"In most people, melatonin rises just before you go to bed and drops just after you wake up," Zeitzer says. "The stress hormone cortisol peaks just before you wake up, and the body temperature hits the lowest point around the middle of a night's sleep." In larks, for example, these hormonal fluctuations and temperature rhythms occur earlier than they do for most people, so they get tired earlier in the evening and perform best in the morning.
Although many sleep researchers believe there is a genetic basis for a morning or evening preference, an associated genetic mutation has not yet been found. Zeitzer points out that social factors, as well as biology, can influence one's preference. For example, college students are often temporary owls, staying up until 3 or 4 a.m. because of academic and social pressures. Other people may become lark-like because they have a two-hour commute to work. While most people can revert back to regular schedules it can be a difficult habit to break.
People who are owls, but have to function on a "normal" schedule can end up sleep deprived due to insomnia. Larks tend to have fewer problems due to their sleep habits, though their social lives may suffer. And larks who have to work at night, such as medical residents and other shift workers, find that they tire out much earlier than their peers.
Still, most owls and larks can reset their body clocks although it might take a bit of doing. Zeitzer suggests that owls begin gradually going to bed earlier. "You may say 'Well, I'll try to go to sleep at midnight. I won't get eight hours of sleep, but I'll just try to get six.'" He also advises that owls sleep in a dark, quiet and temperate room. Likewise, he recommends that larks who have to be up late at night minimize their light exposure in the morning and create good sleep conditions.
"The most potent thing to affect circadian rhythms by far is light," says Zeitzer, who adds that exercise in the morning may help owls stay awake and that taking a melatonin supplement before going to sleep in the morning may assist larks who work at night.
People with an extreme sleep preference, however, are classified as having a sleep disorder: Extreme morningness is referred to as advanced sleep phase syndrome (ASPS) and extreme eveningness is called delayed sleep phase syndrome (DSPS). "While being a 'lark' or an 'owl' will change your social, work or life structure to a degree, having ASPS or DSPS can have a significant impact on your ability to have normal interactions with society," Zeitzer says.
Older people sometimes develop ASPS, possibly because they tend to nap during the day and are less able to filter out sensory information such as light and noise. In certain cases, people with ASPS or DSPS may require light therapy or medication to help them get the sleep they need.
Most owls and larks, though, are able to work within society's schedule. Friends and family just need to remember that calls to a lark after 10 p.m., or to an owl before 10 a.m., might not be welcome.
How night owls are cleverer and richer than people who rise early
By Fiona Macrae - http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencete...ise-early.html
It has long been held that the early bird catches the worm. But it is the night owl that lasts the distance, research shows.
It found that late risers tire less quickly than those who make a point of getting up at the crack of dawn.
The study is likely to be embraced by anyone tired of being branded lazy for their love of a lie-in.
Not so guilty pleasure: A study has found that people who sleep-in tend to be cleverer and richer than morning larks
And it adds to growing evidence that it is night owls that rule the roost.
Previous studies have found that those who rise later tend to be both cleverer and richer than early birds.
For the latest study, scientists pitted morning larks against night owls in a task designed to measure their reaction and attention times.
During the experiment, the volunteers got up and went to bed at their usual times, with the larks tending to turn in four hours earlier than the owls.
Both did similarly well at the task shortly after getting up. But ten hours into their day, it was the night owls that shone, being both quicker and more alert at the task, the journal Science reports.
Despite being awake for the same length of time, the larks felt sleepier, with scans showing that the parts of their brains linked to attention were less active.
Dr Philippe Peigneux, of the University of Liege in Belgium, said: 'During the evening session, evening types were less sleepy and tended to perform faster than morning types.'
Previous studies have shown that getting up late appears to be in our DNA, with our body clock regulated by a series of genes which determine whether we are larks or owls.
Other studies have debunked the popular saying 'early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise'.
Night owls have been shown to be cleverer than larks, with quicker minds and better memories. They also earn more.
Famous night owls include Charles Darwin, Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill, who regularly went to bed at 4am and rose late. Due to his sleeping patterns, he often hosted War Cabinet meetings in his bath.
It is thought that the division into larks and owls has its roots in evolution, with early risers in the Stone Age taking the initiative in food gathering, while owls stood guard late into the night.
Those who fell into neither category could sleep safely in the knowledge that their needs were being taken care of.
When humans moved towards tending animals and harvesting crops, larks came in demand for the early starts, while owls started to be thought of as less industrious.