Optimizing Your Sleep
August 15, 2017 - Philippe Kahn
What does the data tell us?
The fantastic team of Fullpower Scientists, using the AI-powered Sleeptracker® platform to analyze several millions of nights of sleep from millions of individuals worldwide, dating all the way back to 2011 find that:
- 23% of sleepers are Owls (perform best in the evening)
- 28% Larks (perform best in the morning)
- 49% are pretty much able to perform in the morning, or the evening either way
Morning vs Evening Person: Lark vs Owl
Yes, it's genetic. If you are not a morning person and can’t fall asleep before late at night or if you love getting up at 6am and feel sleepy by 9pm, it’s not your fault, you may be genetically a night Owl or a morning Lark. No matter where you stand in both of those extremes, it may simply be genetic.
Humans adapt. We’ve evolved from Paleolithic ages by adapting to changes. Yet we are genetically programmed to perform the best in some particular circumstances. The latest research shows a genetic link to being a night Owl or a morning Lark.
A team led by Daniel Katzenberg at Stanford University looked at 410 randomly selected adults to assess their tendencies as morning Larks or night Owls. Among other things they took blood samples and looked at the gene named “Clock.” They concluded that the Larks bio clock was up to one hour ahead on the average to the one of the Owls. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9779516
It seems that the world population is made out of one quarter of Night Owls and one quarter of Morning Larks. The remaining half of the population seems to perform equally well at sunrise or sunset. The challenge is that our modern society tends to force everyone to a schedule inherited from the early days of the industrial revolution. This in turn means that there is about 25% of the population that may not perform optimally on a recommended “modern schedule.” You can think of it as lefties being forced to be right handed. Although as humans we can adapt to being ambidextrous, it’s not comfortable. If Kelly Slater were forced to be goofy footed, would he still be the greatest surfer? https://www.surfertoday.com/surfing/7527-the-best-goofy-footers-of-all-time
Owl or Lark? How to Identify your Chronotype
In 1976, the International Journal of Chronobiology published a paper by researchers Jim Horne and Olov Östberg. There is a questionnaire with 19 questions, available on the Internet and published. Here is a link to the original. https://www.cet.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/Horne-1976-IJC.pdf
Can you change an Owl into a Lark?
Especially if you are night Owl, society and social life and work schedules may impose stress. Of course, it is always possible to adapt. But it is not advised to change sleeper type. Be a proud Owl or Lark. Don’t force unnatural adaptation. Lefties should be happy lefties and Kelly Slater should not be forced to compete goofy-footed.