If you’re a morning person, have you got a jump on those that do their best work as the day wears on? The world seems to be skewed to people being at their most effective in the morning. This starts from day-care, schooling and continues through into corporate life. There are some exceptions; hospitality, healthcare, miners and other shift workers, but on the whole, most working days kick off somewhere around 8.30am.
In a recent study by Christoph Radler, a professor of biology at the University of Education in Heidelberg, Germany, it was found that those who were more energetic in the morning were more proactive, particularly in the areas of making goals and taking charge of situations.
Professor Radler’s research has shown that morning people generally receive better grades at school, go to better universities, have better jobs and once they have those jobs are more proactive and have greater career success. All of this is alarming if you tend to prefer a gentle easing into the day.
Of course there are exceptions and it’s not all downside for the after sunset crowd. Night people have been shown to be more creative, have a better sense of humour and are more outgoing. So what if you are a night person and want to pick up a few of the early riser’s traits? Professor Radler has found that people can be trained to alter their chronotypes and shift their daily waking schedule by an hour or so. This could be done by going into the outdoors earlier each day and going to bed earlier. However, to shift a person’s natural waking time beyond an hour becomes difficult particularly as about 50% of a person’s chronotype is due to genetics.
Morningness does also tend to come to you naturally as you grow older. As a general rule, those under 30 are more inclined to be evening types, ages 30-50 is roughly split between morning and evening people and as you go past 50, you tend to shift to being a morning person.
The alternative to shifting people’s natural biorhythms would seem to be to shift the way workplaces, or indeed schooling, operates. Why should there be such a strong focus on an 8.30am to 5.30pm standard working day, when the majority of jobs could be as equally well carried out between 11:30am and 8:30pm? According to Professor Radler’s research, school and workplaces could well be missing out on a whole lot of creativity and fun by marshalling in the evening types before they are at their best.
Let’s hope that the increasing focus on work/life balance, and associated flexible working hours policies, can allow the night owls to tip working hour bias back into balance.