Night owl (person)
A night owl, evening person or simply owl, is a person who tends to stay up until late at night.
The opposite of a night owl is an early bird, a lark as opposed to owl, someone who tends to begin sleeping at a time that is considered early and also wakes early. In several countries, early birds are called "A-people" and night owls are called "B-people". Researchers traditionally use the terms "morningness" and "eveningness" for the two chronotypes or diurnality and nocturnality in animal behavior.
Origins of term
The term is derived from the primarily nocturnal habits of the owl. Usually, people who are night owls stay awake past midnight and extreme night owls may stay awake until just before or after dawn. Night owls tend to feel most energetic just before they go to sleep at night. Some night owls have a preference or habit for staying up late, or stay up to work the night shift. Night owls who work the day shift often have difficulties adapting to standard day-time working hours.
Researchers have found that the genetic make-up of the circadian timing system underpins the difference between early and late chronotypes, the early birds and the night owls. Some night owls who have great difficulty adopting normal sleeping and waking times may have delayed sleep-phase disorder. Morning light therapy may be helpful in shifting sleep rhythms for the night owl.
While it has been suggested that circadian rhythms may change over time, turning lark to owl or vice versa, evidence for familial patterns of early or late waking would seem to contradict this.
Night owls have often been blamed for unpunctuality or attitude problems. Employers, however, have begun to learn to increase productivity by respecting body clocks through flexible working hours, while the Danish "B-Society" of night owls and the American Start School Later movement lobby actively for more school and workplace flexibility for the post-agricultural world.
Some research has found that night owls are more intelligent and creative and more likely to get high-paying jobs than larks. A study among 1000 adolescents by the University of Madrid found that owls are better than early birds in intuitive intelligence, creative thinking and inductive reasoning. However, they lag behind larks in academic performance and they tend to have unhealthier eating habits.
Discussions and studies about the prevalence of morning, evening,and indifferent or intermediate chronotypes use different criteria and come to different results. Some ask what time people do go to sleep and wake up—others ask what time people would prefer to, while researchers like Till Roenneberg's team consider the difference between a person's sleep times on work/school days versus on free days. One survey of over 400 adults showed approximately 15% morning people, 25% evening people, and 60% intermediates.
A list of famous night owls includes:
- Charles Bukowski
- Michael Chabon
- Winston Churchill
- Bob Dylan
- Gustave Flaubert
- Glenn Gould
- Samuel Johnson
- Carl Jung
- Franz Kafka
- Fran Lebowitz
- Marilyn Manson
- Marcel Proust
- George Sand
- Joseph Stalin
- Hunter S. Thompson
- J.R.R. Tolkien
- Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec
- John Travolta
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- Gayle Greene, Insomniac (2008) p. 345
- Klein, p. 33
- Greene, p. 345
- Greene, p. 345
- "IF YOU WANT TO GET AHEAD, BE A NIGHT OWL" by Roger Dobson; THE INDEPENDENT March 24, 2013
- Walker, R. J., Christopher, A. N., Wieth, M. B., & Buchanan, J. (2015). Personality, time-of-day preference, and eating behavior: The mediational role of morning-eveningness. Personality and Individual Differences, 77, 13–17.
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Sandy maintained the house, tiptoeing around until three o'clock in the afternoon, Hunter's usual waking hour.
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- Elsworth, Catherine. "Travolta turns night owl to protect privacy". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-03-07.
- Quoted in Rubinstein p. 211
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- Hilary Rubinstein, The Complete Insomniac (London 1974) p. 19
- Louise Miller, Careers for Night Owls and Other Insomniacs (2002)
- J. Dunlap et al., Chronobiology (2004)