Defining Early Birds, Night Owls and Hummingbirds

(Part 1 of 3)

Most people are familiar with Early Birds, your sibling who calls at 7:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning because they “forgot what time it is” or your co-workers who are already at work even if you get in at the crack of dawn. Not always as recognizable, but distinctive in their own ways are Night Owls. Night Owls, hitting their stride later in the day include that co-worker who sends you emails at 10:00 p.m. with new ideas for your project or the friend who’s ready to plan that camping trip at 11:00 while you’re ready

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for a visit from the sandman. What’s a hummingbird? Hummingbirds include two-thirds of the population. While more difficult to define, this category includes a majority of the population. While not pure Early Birds or Night Owls many Hummingbirds tend towards one or the other with their schedules offset by about one hour.

While the research varies, much of it estimates that Early Birds make up 5 to 10% of the population while Night Owls are much more predominant at 16 to 20% of the population. But wait, if upwards of 10% of the population are Early Birds and a maximum of 20% of the population are Night Owls why do 95% of teenagers fight going to bed at a normal time? Why are college students infamous for late night study sessions and revelry? While our behaviors are impacted by our environment and social pressures, many people choose to or are forced to be Night Owl or Early Bird pretenders.
The fact is your biological clock is wound at birth. This is no minor dynamic of your genetic makeup. Your biological clock, or circadian rhythm, controls your body temperature, melatonin and endocrine levels and releases various hormones throughout the day. This in turn impacts your mood and levels of productivity and creativity.

For the working population the consequences of the difference between our innate biological clock and the demands of the highly standardized world of work are dramatic, both for employees and their employers.

In the second part of this three part blog series we will discuss how your biological clock impacts critical areas such as alertness, productivity, creativity and moods as well as new trends among Gen-Y and the Millennials in regards to Early Bird and Night Owl demographics.

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