For years those people who like to wake up early and those who function best at night have been lobbing scientific claims at one another. Getting up at the crack of dawn makes you more efficient and successful, claim the larks. Forget your early-morning cheer, respond the night owls. We might be droopy-eyed until noon, but we're also more creative and smarter!

But perhaps you've felt totally left out of this bravado-filled debate on when is the best time to get out of bed. Maybe you've always had the sense that your personal daily rhythms don't really fit into either the stereotypical 'lark' or 'night owl' pattern. If so, I bring you good news. Science has now vindicated your instinct--there really are more types than just the two classic birds.

But that's where the good news ends for some.

When researchers out of Russia examined the sleep and wakefulness rhythms of 130 study subjects (by keeping the obliging participants up for a full 24 hours and quizzing them periodically about how they were feeling), the scientists found that some folks really didn't prefer early or late hours. Instead, they were either just lethargic all the time or always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

According to the study, which was recently published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, the group broke down to 44 classic night owls, 29 early-rising larks, 25 subjects with all-day energy, and 32 who struggled continuously to stay alert.

If you're one of those lucky few with seemingly endless energy, congrats! Now stop gloating. If you fall into the group that's tired all day, on the other hand, it might be nice to know it really is a thing, so you can tell all those annoying early risers and Energizer bunnies constantly urging you to buck up and stop hitting snooze that there is a biological basis for your permanent exhaustion. However, sadly, the scientists offer no suggestions or tips to deal with this ever-present drowsiness.

For the perma-tired there may be little cheer to be gleaned from the study, which was spotted by the always-interesting British Psychological Society Research Digest blog. But while the results don't offer practical suggestions, they do present a fun opportunity to brainstorm names for the two new "diurnal types" identified by the researchers.

"I was hoping the authors might propose two new bird names for their high-energy and lethargic categories, but sadly they don't," says the BPS's Christian Jarrett. "What about swift for the high-energy category? I'm not sure about a lethargic bird. It's over to you--any ideas?" 

Which category do you fall into, and what would you name the new ones?

 

Published on: Nov 7, 2014