We all believe we’re one or the other. Are you a morning person or do you get better as the day goes along?
As it turns out, there are actual names given to those of us who seem to function better or worse at various hours. Morning people are known as larks and those who aren’t are called owls.
If you’re not sure which one you are, ask the person you live with. I’m fairly certain he or she will be happy to tell you.
For 35 years I worked from 3 in the afternoon until midnight. That’s often known as the swing shift in factories or industrial settings. For me, it was a function of anchoring 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts. I was forced to become an owl, even if I didn’t know I was one. Many nights I’d come home, unwind with snacks and TV until going to bed about 2 a.m. It wasn’t until I left that business that I learned a more normal way of living existed.
For the last eight years, my work schedule’s been much more traditional. I’m now in traffic every morning with thousands of others gulping their coffee and trying to get to work on time. I’m also one of the throng leaving work at 5 p.m., switching lanes while talk-radio callers attempt to solve the world’s problems.
What are you?
Social scientists are starting to believe that some of what makes us tick is geared to our internal clock.
Maybe we’re born that way?
My dad used to ease into his day. He was also the one who would let me stay up with him to watch Johnny Carson’s monologue. My mother, who was raised by farming parents, was up early and ready to get at it.
Ben Franklin always believed that “early to bed and early to rise makes and man healthy, wealthy and wise.” Is that oft-used phrase born out by any research? Actually, there is some data on the subject.
In the 1980s, the term chronotype appeared. Studies reflected certain personality traits. Lark and owl designations evolved from some of these studies.
Any of these characteristics sound familiar?
A lark: persistent, proactive, conscientious, positive.
An owl: more productive, more stamina, procrastinator.
Those traits aren’t absolutes. But I bet there are many of you shaking your heads right now as you pass judgment on the larks and owls in your circle of birdbrains.
Morning or night?
One survey revealed that 48 percent of women are morning people versus 39 percent who are men. Morning people tend to be happier, night owls are likely to suffer from insomnia.
I think what grates on me the most is hearing a morning person list everything they’ve done before you’ve punched the button on the Keurig machine for the first cup of caffeine to kick-start the day. You know the type. Before you have a chance to mumble "Good morning" this person wants to tell you he or she has already been to the fitness center, rotated the tires, walked the dog, folded some laundry, roasted a pig and is about to trim the hedges.
Enough already! I’m semi-happy you’re having a good day!
I’m starting to evolve. I definitely feel less like an owl, but I’m nowhere near to achieving lark status. Scientists admit some people are neither.
I start yawning before the second half of many televised ballgames. I secretly admit some satisfaction from getting up early and accomplishing a few tasks before noon. I’m nowhere near feeling like everybody else in the civilized world wants to know about it.
When, and if, that happens, just put this bird out of his misery. You’ll find me nodding off in the La-Z-Boy that’s littered with various snacks consumed by old owls.
Reach Warren Peper at firstname.lastname@example.org.