night owls vs early birds

Photo by Nino Souza: pexels

They say the early bird catches the worm, but is that really true? When thinking about night owls vs early birds, is one better than the other in terms of being both well-rested and productive? Are owls the smart birds, or do early risers win in the night owl vs morning lark debate?

Whether you’re wondering am I a night owl or an early bird or you know which camp you fall into but are interested in the implications, this article delves deeper into the early birds vs night owls debate.

What ever you are just make sure you are able to get enough sleep. S e our post on how sleep can improve your mood.

Keep reading if you want to know all the pros and cons of the morning lark vs night owl conundrum!

Night Owls vs Early Birds | What it’s all about

night owls often work late

Night Owls

  • Loves a lie-in
  • Awake until late
  • Tired after rising early
  • Can feel sleepy in the daytime
  • More energetic during the evening
  • Feels more awake and alive later in the day

If you’re a night owl, then all of the above is probably going to ring true. You love to sleep until late, and don’t mind going to bed long after those early birds have turned in for the night. The downside can be daytime tiredness, but the upside is that you might get a lot done during the evenings. You might even feel alert enough to be productive until the small hours.

One of the key disadvantages of being a night owl is that the way society is structured doesn’t suit you so well. Work, college, school and business hours are all set up for early starts and finishes, which isn’t ideal for the night owl’s body clock. Late shifts at the local bar or hospital might suit you very well, however.

The mental health of night owls has the potential to suffer. This is because trying to fit in with the society you live in can be a constant struggle.

The good thing is that there’s the potential to get a lot done while the rest of the world slumbers. Being a night owl can suit creative types very well indeed, as they can quietly toil away while everyone else is in the land of nod. For obvious reasons, it’s not quite so easy when your profession involves making a lot of noise, though! So night owl builders beware ;)


  • Can get lots done later on
  • Suits jobs that involve late shifts
  • Creative types can work while the world sleeps


  • Society hours aren’t set up to suit night owls
  • As a consequence, you may constantly struggle to ‘fit in’
early birds are often in the office early

Early Birds

  • Loves an early night
  • Likes to rise with the lark
  • Finds it difficult to stay awake late
  • Feels fabulous first thing in the morning
  • Energy slumps occur as the day goes on
  • Not likely to be very productive during the evening

If the phrase ‘early to bed, early to rise’ strikes a chord with you, then you’re likely to be an early bird. Early birds find it fairly easy to get up at a time that would leave any night owl wide-eyed with horror. They also love an early night, and in fact find it tricky to stay awake past a certain time of the day.

Society in general is well set up for early birds, and especially so if you have the sort of job that involves earlier starts. Such as a baker, postal worker or tradesperson. The 8.30 or 9am start that’s typical of schools, universities, factories and offices tends to suit the morning lark very well.

Being an early bird means naturally fitting in better with how the world works. This can mean you feel more content, and have better mental health as a consequence. It can cause struggles when you do want or need to stay up late, however!

When you’re an early bird, you might well get a lot done during the morning and afternoon. By the evening, though, many larks are fading fast. This means you may feel all spent by the time dinner is done, and you could be stretching, yawning and dreaming of bed by 8.30 or 9pm.


  • Easier to get up in the morning
  • Very productive during the daytime
  • Slots in perfectly with typical work, study and business schedules


  • Staying up late can be a real struggle
  • You won’t get so much done later in the day

Why are we early birds or night owls?

Sleep researchers still tend to be uncertain about why individuals might be a night owl or early bird. Is it nature, or nurture? While it’s believed that genetics might play a part, it can also be down to your circadian rhythms.

So if the cause is genetic, we’re talking about nature. Circadian rhythms, however, can be a matter of nurture as well as nature. These inner rhythms refer to each person’s sleeping and waking schedule.

What determines your circadian rhythms? Environmental factors can play a key role here. How light or dark it is outside can have a huge influence, though it is possible to tweak this to your advantage by using the likes of blackout blinds, sleep masks and the right lighting. In turn, production of melatonin - the sleep hormone - can be affected by light levels.

All sorts of other physical features can influence a person’s circadian rhythms too. These include your age, metabolic rate and body temperature.

Lifestyle can also determine circadian rhythms. Factors particularly at play include irregular working schedules, crossing time zones, medication, mental health conditions and stress and the lack of an established sleeping pattern.

Can an early bird become a night owl - or vice versa?

While there’s no magic switch to make a night owl become an early bird and vice versa, there are ways in which you can set a sleeping schedule to stick to.

The most important is establishing a time for waking and going to bed. Though it sounds tough, following this even at weekends can pay dividends. But give it some time - your circadian rhythms aren’t easy to adjust overnight.

Simple sleep-friendly measures such as eating regular meals, avoiding screen time before bed, blocking out light sources and taking short daytime naps where required can also benefit your overall health.

Night Owls vs Early Birds | Final thoughts

As you can see, there are benefits to both sleeping patterns. Which works best for you will depend on your natural tendency to one or the other. In addition to your lifestyle.

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial when you want to stay healthy and productive. It will also help you to enjoy every waking moment. If you do have problems with sleeping, then it’s always wise to seek expert medical advice.

May 17, 2023 — Michelle Fletcher Smith