Late Sleepers Are Tired Of Being Victimized. And Science Now Has Their Back.

Mar 30, 2016 by apost team

The world we live in praises the early risers:

“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom,” said Aristotle.

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise,” said Benjamin Franklin.

"The early bird catches the worm," said every parent and teacher out there.

The message is crystal clear: Wake up early, otherwise, you will never get anything done in life.

The science of chronobiology has proven that we all have an internal clock that keeps us going and manages our sleep cycle. The most important thing about this is, that we are all constructed differently. The average person has an internal clock that lets them sleep from around 11pm to 7am. But around 40% of people  do not fit into this common schedule.

If you count yourself as a night owl, this means your circadian schedule is shifted later. And as a logical conclusion, if you are a morning person, your circadian schedule is shifted earlier. If you're not sure which category you truly belong to, take this quiz to find out! These traits are based mainly on genetics and are therefore quite hard to alter. Studies have even shown that our health may be in danger if we try to hard to change our genetic habits.

Yet the most shocking thing about these findings aren't the health issues, but the stigma that late sleepers are confronted with in a society that praises early risers. In other words: Late sleepers are tired of being discriminated against and judged for a trait that they were simply born with. Since we cannot easily change our sleeping patterns, it is up to society to change their view on those who do not conform to our morning-loving society.

Late sleepers are regarded as ‘lazy’.

Some people have a so-called delayed sleep phase, which makes them "extreme" night owls. For people with these genetic presets, a night's sleep goes from about 2 or 3am and lasts until noon. They simply can't fall asleep any sooner, even if they try. They simply have shifted schedules.

We quickly assume that people like this are lazy, are always partying or simply don't have their life in order. We assume they are not capable of beginning their day like the "average" person. Those affected by such patterns consider these accusations to be personally damaging

Kat Park, a healthcare administrator from Kansas in her mid-30s, told Vox, "I felt like such a loser because I wasn’t able to do it [wake up early]."

The negative connotations from society usually leave those affected with no positive outlook. Visits to the doctor’s office often show no help as late-sleepers do not seem to be taken seriously, not even by their friends who simply do not understand. This may lead to self-medication, caffeine misuse or even unemployment because they just cannot concentrate when they are expected to. We must understand that it is not their fault and approach those with delayed cycles with respect and seriousness.

Should late sleepers be forced to change their habits or should we as a society show more tolerance?

Only 1% of the population has such an extreme delayed sleep phase. Are their experiences mirrored in those who have less extreme chronotypes? Even if you usually sleep until 9am, it is hard for your to be at a meeting that starts at 8am, even if this is just an hour's difference. Or how do teens, who generally have quite shifted cycles, cope with having to be at school so early?

Camilla Kring saw this issue and founded the B-society, which stands up for the evening-oriented people in our society and raises awareness internationally. "I actually think we have a lot of discrimination in our society against late chronotypes," she says, using the example of early meetings which are a disadvantage to late sleepers. Early risers are more successful and present in meetings because their mental state is naturally better early in the morning.

Because our world is so well connected due to the internet, Kring suggests that employers approach their workers with more flexible schedules. In our present time, we can work practically whenever and wherever we want to, so why not embrace it?

Seeing as small changes can make a great difference, workplaces would not have a hard time supporting different chronotypes. "Just by changing your schedule by an hour or two, it can result in having more sleep, higher productivity," Kring states.

"Although we should avoid a simplistic shortcut of associating ET [evening types] to some negative aspects, the data point to the idea that an [evening type] pattern is a risk factor for some disorders, whereas [morning type] is a protection factor," a 2012 study concludes and, therefore, backs Krings theory.

It seems like a mere matter of common sense. We should work when we feel most able, sharp and productive. There has not been enough scientific research to prove whether modified schedules can truly change the imbalances in our society, but it's definitely worth a try.


Disclaimer: Our content is created to the best of our knowledge, yet it is of general nature and cannot in any way substitute an individual consultation by your doctor. Your health is important to us.

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