'Morning Lark' or 'Night Owl'- What's the Healthiest Sleep Pattern?

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People come in all types; it's our diversity that makes us so interesting. When it comes to the patterns of our days and our nights, experts generally categorize us as falling into three fairly distinct types: morning people (larks), night people (owls), and those who are indifferent or don't tend to either extreme (hummingbirds).

Are you a morning person? If you are, then you probably love getting up at the crack of dawn, taking a walk outside in the crisp fresh air, and getting an early start "to beat the rush." Your mornings are extremely productive. On the flip-side, maybe your body is beginning to tire out right when the sun goes down, and you're well off to sleep before the late night talk shows hit the airways.

Or perhaps you're a night owl. After dinner is your best time of day. You're energized and ready to go. As the song says, you love the nightlife and you've got to boogie. Even working through mentally challenging tasks well into the wee hours of the morning is not a problem for you. But when that old alarm clock rings, and rings, and rings, getting out of bed and taking the world in stride for that first few hours of the morning can be tough.

People come in all types; it's our diversity that makes us so interesting. When it comes to the patterns of our days and our nights, experts generally categorize us as falling into three fairly distinct types: morning people (larks), night people (owls), and those who are indifferent or don't tend to either extreme (hummingbirds).

In our culture, those who fall in the middle (hummingbirds) make up the majority of people (around 60% of the population). The remainder of the population is roughly divided equally between morning and evening types with each consisting of approximately 20%.

Individuals who tend to be early risers are labeled larks. These people will just naturally awaken about 2 hours earlier than the majority of the population and are typically ready for sleep between the hours of 8:00pm and 10:00pm. For a lark, midnight is literally considered the middle of the night. Founding father Benjamin Franklin is one famous lark; the current Dali Lama is another.

Night or evening folks are called owls. They naturally function best when waking about 2 hours later than the majority of the population. Owls almost never feel sleepy until well after midnight. The author James Joyce and the statesman Winston Churchill were two well-known and successful night owls.

Naturally, larks tend to socialize with other larks and owls with other owls. After all, larks bump into other larks during those early morning outings and owls hang out with other owls at night.

That's all well and good. But in a culture where difference is sometimes not easily accepted or tolerated, some unfortunate misconceptions can arise. For instance, because of an inability to accept difference many larks come to consider owls as "lazy" and many owls regard larks as simply "boring." It is after all so easy to stereotype and simplify. So cowardly. So dangerous.

That said. It is important to investigate and understand what legitimate consequences these differing sleep and waking patterns have on our lives.

Does the Early Bird Really Catch More Worms?

It's the morning lark Benjamin Franklin who is credited with the famous saying, "Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." Recently, Franklin's old adage was put to the test by researchers in England. The results, while not earth-shattering, may nevertheless surprise you.

One surprise stemming from the research was that night owls scored statistically higher on socioeconomic indicators such as income and economic stability.

Perhaps more telling were the general results. When all the research came in it was clear that the folks who went to bed early and woke up first were no better or no worse off than those who went to bed late and woke up late in terms of personal and family well-being, cognitive function, and overall health.

Basically, after extensive research neither sleep pattern could be linked to improved health or mental function.

The moral of the story: if you follow your own path and adhere to the sleep pattern that comes most natural to you, then you'll be putting yourself in line with your own internal rhythms and you'll be living the life you were meant to live. To be truly "healthy, wealthy, and wise" larks should live like larks, owls like owls, and hummingbirds like hummingbirds. It just makes sense, doesn't it?

"Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise."

--Benjamin Franklin, Founding Father        

"It's a sin to go to bed on the same day you get up."

--Jimmy Walker, Legendary Mayor of New York City

Bob Myhal is the Co-founder of MuscleMaster.com, Inc. and the author of the Ultimate Muscle Mass Training Program, the Anabolic Nutrition Program, and hundreds of articles on bodybuilding, health, fitness, and nutrition. A regular guest on health and fitness radio and television, Bob's innovative techniques and programs have helped thousands of people achieve their fitness and physique goals.

For more information, visit http://www.musclemaster.net

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