This is an old topic, but I am going to provide my readers, especially college students, with new perspectives. The benefit of being an early bird is not only gaining a physically healthy body, but also a more efficient life. Advocates of “late birds” – who sleep late and get up late – suggest that the two modes of sleeping should be more or less the same. Both kinds of people sleep for the same amount of time, around 6 to 8 hours altogether. It is just a hurry shift of sleeping time. The greatest weakness of this assertion is that it has ignored the asymmetry of daytime and night time.
The human body is designed to sleep early and get up early. For thousands of years, human beings get up when sunrise and sleep after sunset. There is an innate clock (or circadian cycle) inside our body. Some hormones help us to stay awake during the daytime, while others (such as the famous melatonin) make us feel sleepy and determine the quality of sleep. A number of these hormones are controlled by light, so naturally, we feel fresh in the morning and sleepy at night, unless we are imprisoned in a room without a window. Sleep in daytime and work in night time are generally poorer in quality.
Having breakfast. Almost all of us agree that breakfast is critical to the efficiency of whole-day work because it provides us with energy in morning and afternoon. However, people who sleep late are often related to get up a bit earlier and save for 10 minutes for breakfast. They get up at the “exact time” so that they can arrive at their workplace just in time.
Potential late-comers. Usually, it may not be a serious problem if their unpunctuality is not discovered by their boss. But when people get up late, they have to always rush to class or office. It leads to nervous emotion which may affect concentration on morning’s work. Another hidden problem arises that they do not have a leisure period (5 to 10minutes) to plan what they are going to do today. Efficient people always remind themselves what they should accomplish that day in the morning to prevent themselves from being distracted away from their goals.
Extra award of one hour. An award early birds receive every day is an extra hour of fresh mind before the start of lesson or work. They can make use of this hour to make gradual but important changes, such as reading books and learning new skills. Late birds may claim that they also have one extra hour at night, compared with early birds. However, the quality of their one hour is lower than early birds’. After working for long hours, we are generally exhausted during the night, and we tend to conform ourselves to passive entertainment, like watching TV or browsing the Internet, which requires less active thinking. The value of this one hour is depreciated.
Nap during lesson or work. If we are not a self-employed, the working time will not change according to our schedule. No matter when we sleep last night, we have to get up to work. So how does the sleeping time be compensated if we sleep late? Yes, we will be sleepy or unfocused when we work. All of us should have experienced that before and should have no doubt that this will hinder personal success. It is not a clear choice to sacrifice the whole-day energy for one hour at night. I rarely see successful professors or managers who are always sleepy during the daytime, while I find that sleepy student are usually unsuccessful in class and extracurricular activities.
Some extreme late birds just get up at night and sleep in the day time. They are usually students who do not have a fix working time. Perhaps they have gotten used to the habit, and feel that night time is more silent and peaceful. However, we can not live totally independent of others. One of my colleagues told me that she had tried the night working mode in the laboratory. She was fine at the beginning but found out that her linkage with other people in the lab was disconnected. Communication and cooperation are important to the success of a person and a team.
If you think you are already successful being a late bird, believe me, that you will become a more successful and energetic person when you become an early bird. It is not a shift of sleeping time, but a shift of quality of life.