While lifestyle plays an important role in influencing whether you are an early bird or night owl, research tells us that your genes are largely responsible for your internal clock. Does it grate your nerves when your spouse or friend jumps out of bed in the morning, energetic and ready to go when you just want to pull the covers over your head and go back to sleep? Or when you get to work, the eager beavers are deep into work as you stumble to the coffee pot to get a jolt of caffeine? These two ways of living can create lots of discord at home and at work, but there is now something to blame.
The gene that regulates our internal clock is aptly called the CLOCK gene (short for Circadian Locomotor Output Cycles Kaput). Research found this gene determines whether a person is an early bird or a night owl. This gene comes in two forms, a shorter gene or a longer gene. You have a longer version of this gene if you are an early riser. If you are a night person this gene is shorter. Only 1 percent of the general population is considered true early birds. About 17 percent are night owls; with the rest falling in the mid-range of both extremes.
Problems occur at home and at work when early birds and night owls interact. Early birds work hard from the moment they get to work and burn out in the afternoons, whereas a Night Owl may not kick into high gear until almost noon. Deadlines, projects and interactions can be affected if this issue is not addressed.
Here are a few steps to improve your performance at work:
- Start an energy log and jot down times of the day you are most productive and which you are tired or slow. Do this for a week.
- Share this log with others and discuss how you can integrate your different energy levels into your work routine. For early birds, this may mean morning meetings; night owls – afternoon pitches.
- If you have flex time at work, consider picking up early morning or late afternoon shifts.