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3 Myths I Stopped Believing When I Became a Night Owl

The modern world belongs to larks. But I decided to fight the system and let myself live as a night owl. I have been going to bed no earlier than 2 AM and waking up at about 10 AM for 2 years. And this has changed my life for the better in many ways.

I decided to share my experience with Bright Side readers and dispel some myths about night owls.

Who are night owls and larks?

Scientists define 2 chronotypes that influence the day and night cycles — night owls and larks. Some researchers even describe a third type — pigeons.

Night owl

Lark

Pigeon

But, of course, this classification is vague. More and more scientists say that biological rhythms differ from individual to individual. For example, scientists from Harvard conducted an experiment and found a huge difference in the chronotypes of different people and realized that the day and night cycle can change with age.

In order to determine your circadian rhythm, complete the Horne and Östberg test here.

Myths I tried to believe

I remember the time when I worked 5 days a week and woke up at 5:40 AM to avoid the traffic. It took me a long time to fully wake up at the office and I could be an efficient worker only after lunch. But I felt very fresh in the evening, so I could do the things I love — my hobbies and spending time with my friends. In the mornings, I spent my time dreaming of surviving the week and getting a good night’s sleep during the weekend. Of course, I didn’t like this situation so I tried to adapt to my everyday working life. I heard a lot of recommendations that turned out to be nothing more than myths. I’ll dispel the most common myths with my example.

Myth 1: Being a night owl is unnatural.

Some people used to try to convince me that a person’s biological clock depends entirely on the daylight hours: we should all wake up at dawn, and go to bed after dusk as the Sun tells us to. That’s why my love for the nightlife was considered to be unnatural and unhealthy. But my example startled people and they had no more points to support their opinion.

The thing is, I grew up in the Far North where in the winter, the Sun is seen for only a couple of hours a day, and in the summer, there are white nights. According to the daylight theory, people are supposed to be awake the entire summer, and during the winter, they should be asleep. But this doesn’t happen because people are not bears.

British and American scientists studied different chronotypes and came to the conclusion that night owls more often don’t get enough sleep, experience more stress, and have a high risk of early death. The thing is, night owls are forced to wake up early and adjust their circadian rhythms to that of others. What do you think about this?

Myth 2: The daily schedule depends on your habits.

“You just need to learn to go to bed and wake up at the same time.” — This is the most common myth I’ve heard. Nothing could break me: school, college, or the office. Then I thought — what’s if it’s all about genes? My little brother fell asleep during lessons several times. Scientists also asked the same question and found a gene in a person’s DNA that is responsible for the day-and-night cycle. The gene is called PER3 and has 3 forms that match the chronotypes I described.

When I was forced to be a lark, even 10 hours of sleep wasn’t enough for me to feel refreshed and comfortable. I even went to doctors who diagnosed hypotension and told me that I had to drink a cup of coffee in the morning. Now 7-8 hours is just enough for me to get enough sleep. I don’t have headaches and I don’t feel apathetic after waking up.

Myth 3: All successful people are larks.

There are a lot of recommendations on the internet on how to learn to get up at 4 AM to earn billions of dollars a day. I even did some experiments several times: I couldn’t get my brain to work for a very long time — during the day I was terribly sleepy and I only felt better in the evening. I accepted that I was hopeless but modern scientists saved my self-esteem.

British scientists found out that intellectually-developed people are usually night owls. Epidemiologists from Southhampton University found that night owls make more money that larks.

There are many night owls among famous people. For example, the co-founder of Reddit, Alexis Ohanian, goes to sleep no earlier than 2 AM and the CEO of Genius, Tom Lehman, sleeps from 3 AM to 10:30 AM.

My life has changed a lot since I stopped waking up every morning after 10 unsuccessful alarms. I got rid of many health problems and now that I need less time to get enough sleep, I’m more productive and simply happier. Of course, not every person can live according to their biological rhythms because of work, studying, and other responsibilities. But the most important thing I wanted to explain to readers is that if you are a night owl, don’t think that you are wrong and don’t worry if you are irritated and sleepy in the morning — this is our nature and it’s not a flaw!

Which type are you? Do you easily get up in the morning? Tell us in the comments section below!

Illustrated by Leonid Khan for BrightSide.me

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