Living as a Night Owl in a World of Early Birds


Sarah Peng (Creative Commons)

There is a clear difference between early birds and night owls within society. Is it warranted?

Avery Chalk, Writer

Why should one’s body clock determine their productivity, skillset, or overall role in society?

There are unspoken stereotypes that surround those who function best during the day versus after dark. Early birds are deemed “productive” for choosing to rise when the sun does each morning, while night owls are scolded for utilizing the time after it sets. These systemic beliefs have shaped school, work, and everything in between. Is it time they retire?

Some characteristics of textbook night owls. (@uokwellbeing)

To start, such philosophies are often generational. Baby Boomers are notoriously known to be less of night dwellers than Generation Z, whose sleeping habits have been subjected to countless instances of mockery and insults. However, there is limited biological evidence to suggest that the brains of older generations are simply hardwired to behave this way. Thus, all signs point to strict traditional loyalties.

This characteristic of older generations is no earth-shattering tale. According to the PEW Research Center, Americans born between 1946 and 1964 lean more Republican than teenagers and young adults. While it certainly is no crime that tradition is rooted firmly into the lives of many older community members, the very fabric of everyday happenings revolves around these well-established practices.

Hanna Mayo, a junior at Franklin High School, is a self-proclaimed nighthawk. “I agree with the fact that there is a stereotype within America,” Mayo asserts. “Night owls are seen as lazy while early birds are more productive, even though that’s not always true.”

Night owls are seen as “lazy” while early birds are more productive.

— Hanna Mayo

The National Center for Education Statistics found that school starts at 7:30 am in most US states. Similarly, the Population Reference Bureau pronounced that most US workers begin their jobs at approximately 8:00 am. Undeniably, achieving professional success is easier for early-risers, as those with the same level of caliber or skill are often denied the opportunity to optimally work during their preferred hours. 

So, does the early bird get the worm? America’s one-sided relationship to 50% of the population is everywhere, and these fundamental challenges are even more harmful than their social counterparts. Both work and school have the power to determine the course of one’s life. Yet, a student who struggles to participate during their early morning lecture but educationally flourishes during the waning hours of nightfall is currently met with nothing but penalty.