Are You an Early Bird or a Night Owl? Why It Matters

Good morning, good afternoon, and good night! That’s a baseball phrase you might have heard for strikes one, two, and three on a batter, making him out. But in real life, the difference between morning and night is even more important, at least when it comes to whether you’re an early bird or a night owl. Is it better to be a morning person? There’s a real debate about whether or not that is better when it comes to work, play, productivity, health, and more. Amazingly, there is lots of evidence on both sides of the issue. So with the jury still undecided, I’m going to weigh in on it and make my opinion known about these chronotypes.

If you're a morning person or a night owl, there are certain advantages and disadvantages. You need to tailor your lifestyle to your chronotype for success.

My Own Tendency

I have always been a morning person myself. I think it worked best for me and paid off at my workplace. Being in the office to get an early start and organize my day made everything flow much better. On days when I didn’t do that, I felt very much out of sorts and lagging. It is a common thing among early birds.

I also faced another factor about the course of my day. When lunch time finally rolled around and I stopped to eat, I often found that after my lunch I was more tired and just generally less productive than in the early hours.

Does Your Chronotype Really Matter?

As to whether a morning or evening orientation matters, the answer really depends on what you are trying to accomplish in life. For most of us, getting up early is what we must do for work. Most of us work on some kind of schedule for an employer who wants us working at 9:00 am, 8:00 am or even earlier than that. In order to be at work on time, you’d have to adjust to getting up early and getting to your job on time and ready for the day. That may sound like it’s easy, but for many it’s not. There are real reasons for that, from staying up way too late down to perhaps a real physical problem that makes sleeping and getting up fresh and prepared extremely difficult. But being at work on time isn’t a just a nice thing, it is more than likely a requirement.

If you happen to be employed in a job that requires you to stay up late and you can sleep in, like say a nightclub performer, then you have the opposite type of requirement. Either way, your own body and system must somehow be attuned to the requirement or you will be considered an undesirable worker and your potential at the job will decline towards ultimate failure.

Are There Advantages to Being an Early Bird?

For one major thing, early birds have the edge on everyone else because they fit better with our standard nine-to-five society. Studies have also shown that they have more positive social traits and may be less prone to depression and addiction. Night owls can experience what is called “social jetlag” in the early hours of the day and that can affect their work and social lives without the proper adjustments.

When it comes to your productivity, sometimes the lack of it is caused by poor planning. That can be true for night owls because they wake up late and they’re already scattered, in a hurry, and out the door without a good plan for the day. People who wake up early and build a plan for the day are typically just more productive.

It is said that Ben Franklin came up with the saying “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” Well along with those three comes good energy. That energy can open many doors for you.

What About the Downsides?

There are downsides in waking up early which can affect you in a big way. For one, an early bird regime is not very compatible with your social life and many of the people around you. By the time many people have their dinner and plan to step out for fun in life, you probably have already been awake for 12+ hours and are very much winding down.

Other disadvantages can depend on the type of job you have. If we are sleep deprived our brain does not function at its full capacity, and we can have trouble absorbing information. This means we are not working at our full potential. When we become overtired, we can find it hard to fall asleep later which just makes that sleep deprivation even worse. If you consistently do this, then your body will become stressed, fatigued, and in the worst case scenario could even lead to premature death.

Apart from the side effects of sleep deprivation, it has also been found that getting up and heading to work early can increase your stress levels. Studies have concluded that people who were getting up before 7:00 am had higher levels of stress hormones throughout the day than those who slept a little longer. Those who constantly feel stress can begin to suffer from side effects including migraines, muscle aches, and mood swings.

If “the early bird does get the worm”, what does the night owl get? We may not know for certain, but it’s possible that night owls can be more creative, have higher cognitive ability, and may be higher risk takers (which can be both good and bad). So while the typical work day favors the early birds, there are “worms” to be had at all hours of the day. The trick is finding your peak performance time and aligning that with your lifestyle.

Are You Giving the Wrong Impression?

If you are always early, rather than seeing you as a punctual person, fellow workers or your employer may just think you work too hard and can never switch off. When people think you are always serious, they may feel they cannot invite you along to work events. This means you begin to get alienated. Colleagues may also start to think you being early means you are trying to suck up to the boss and constantly undermine them and even make them look bad.

It must always be remembered however that everyone is different. While being an early riser and getting up early to head to work may suit you, maybe it doesn’t suit others. Maybe you are in the opposite category and need as much sleep as possible to function. Be sure to take this into consideration when you are deciding what choices you make in life and in your job. It may be best to try out both getting up early and sleeping in to find what makes you the most productive and find out how you can you adjust.

Final Thoughts

You can experiment with your body clock and you can find affirmation as to what works best for you. Challenge yourself and wake up extra early, say like at 5:30 am every morning for 30 days and see the results it has on you and for you. For most people, 30 days is enough to determine whether it has any positive or negative impact on your life. If it does benefit you, the next step is to make it your habit and your new normal.

Do you get up early or sleep in? Does it come naturally to you or do you fight the urge to sleep in and get out of bed every day? Does it affect your health, your job and/or you family when you become the early bird or night owl? In which ways does it affect you?


  1. I’m an early bird. I’d like to get into the office early and get a good start each day and head out on time. I find it helps pace my time off/weekends too. I get a lot more accomplished when I get am an early start to my days off. I can’t say the same thing for my teenagers.

  2. I’m a semi-early bird. 7/7:30 works for me. But no matter what time I get up, my brain slows down after 3 when it comes to details.

    Oh yes, the teenage years! When we went to the diner after the bars (when I was 17 or 18 and drinking age was 18) and rolled into home around 6am. Then my mother would wake me at 9 just to tell me she was leaving the house and I wanted to kill her.

    1. I think as you get older, Joe, you will find that staying up later may be more difficult. This is especially true when you have children who might need your attention during the daytime. My opinion is that is an ever-changing cycle, even if you have a preference for one or the other. Thanks for contributing.

  3. I’m totally an early bird. I’m always the first one at work. It’s so good to be able to work without any disturbance for a while before people are arriving at work.

    I think people tend to work better in the morning. And I also think that sleep is better during the night not in the morning 😉

    Great post Gary!

  4. Interesting article Gary. I think I’m naturally more inclined to want to stay up late and sleep in, but I’ve found I’m much more productive and accomplished when I get up earlier. I’ve also found that I can adjust to whatever schedule is needed, but that I tend to gravitate towards later bedtimes when left to my own devices. I think early risers are definitely at an advantage.

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