UNIVERSITIES provide plenty of benefits to the world. My favourite plus is when an academic study comes along that backs up your bad habits with a biological excuse. Night owls, such as myself, suffer terrible slanders. Lazy, sluggish, self-absorbed. It's not our fault.
We all have a sleep chronotype, dictated by our 24 hour clocks. This, in turn, is influenced by a gene known as Period-3, the researchers say. If you have a long version of the gene you're a lark; short version, owl. I'm not lazy, it's in my genes.
The problem is when the study then goes on to roundly criticise what is dictated by your biology. I was reading this week about how night owls have been found to demonstrate the most dark of personality traits, narcissism and deceitfulness. We are, apparently, not only loath to be abed early and awake with the sun, we are selfish and scheming. We are renowned for stealing others' sexual partners. All things best done under the cover of darkness are ours.
Larks eat breakfast early, owls love a midnight feast. We're fatter, I read, we snore.
We have high levels of stress hormones in our blood, we have poorer memory, we're more sensitive to pain. We suffer depression and anxiety more often than those who are early to bed and early to rise.
Larks can control their impulses, they are analytical and conscientious, healthy, wealthy and wise.
But... owls have more fun. Owls are sensation-seeking, risk-taking and more outgoing. We have more romantic partners and our owl men have higher levels of testosterone. We have more children.
Good things are done in the evening. Mornings are for commuting and bills, porridge and deadlines. Evenings are for cocktails and creation, lush music and lavish meals. Morning is worktime and night is playtime. Owls are not lazy; we typically are awake longer because we stay up later and still have to rise for work. We pack more in and pay for the consequences. And though they judge us, we do not judge larks in return for their daytime ways. We are accepting, also.
In Denmark the rise of the B-Society campaigned for dual timings each day: an A day from 9am til 5pm and a B day shifted an hour later for those of us who struggle first thing. How wonderful if that took on. Flexi-time for all society.
Until it does, well, I may be sleep-deprived and slovenly but I'd rather be a rowdy owl than a sleek, smug lark.
I may be sleep-deprived and slovenly but I'd rather be a rowdy owl than a sleek, smug lark
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