Wellness, Home & Lifestyle, Science & Tech

Night Owl or Morning Lark?

Matthew Walker

Lesson time 14:32 min

Do you love the mornings or thrive at night? Matthew breaks down how this natural rhythm is determined and interpreted.

Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars

Topics include: Embrace Your Inner Lark (or Owl) • Chronotype Bias


[MUSIC PLAYING] Some of you may have heard of being a night owl, for example, or a morning look. In sleep research this is what we call your chronotype. In other words, are you a morning type? Are you an evening type? Or are you somewhere in between? Your chronotype is not really decided by you, the individual. It's actually decided by your genetics. We know that your chronotype is under strong genetic control. In other words, if you're an evening type, it's not by choice. It's by your genetic imprint. And so, you don't get to decide if you're a morning type or an evening type, for the most part. It's gifted to you at birth. And then you carry that chronotype throughout your life. So for example, if you are a morning type, you're someone who likes to wake up very early-- let's say 5 o'clock in the morning. It's more than likely that one or at least both of your parents were also morning types because it's strongly genetically inherited. The same with evening types. And scientific studies have taught us that there are, up to now, at least nine different genes, that we know of, that will control your chronotype-- your morningness or your eveningness. And you can do certain tests. You can do some genetic tests, if you like. And they will tell you what you're more likely to be-- a morning type or an evening type. You don't always need to do a genetic test though, because there is a questionnaire that you can fill out that takes you just a few minutes. It's a slightly cheaper, more convenient, quick way to get a pretty good estimate of exactly what you are as a chronotype. It turns out that about 25% to 30% of the population is an evening type, an owl. About 25% to 30% is a morning type, or what we call a lark. And then the rest of us sit somewhere in between. So your chronotype comes back to your circadian rhythm. Now, all of us have a 24-hour rhythm that looks very similar. However, it's your chronotype that determines where on the 24-hour clock face your peak rhythm will sit, relative to, for example, my peak rhythm. So I'm usually someone who, right now, at this age, my sort of sweet spot for timing is that I tend to go to bed around about sort of 10:30 in the evening. And I usually wake up around 7:00 AM in the morning. So I'm neither an extreme owl-- an extreme evening type-- nor an extreme morning type. I sit somewhere in between. But perhaps you are more of a morning type. So yes, your circadian rhythm will go up and down, just like mine, every 24 hours. But your peak alertness will actually arrive two or three hours before mine on the 24 hour clock face. So because your chronotype is different to my chronotype, when you want to wake up is different. So you may want to wake up around about 5:30 in the morning, let's say, rather than me, at 7 o'clock in the morning. And you may want to go to bed perhaps around 9:00 PM in the evening. Where your circadian rhythm peaks and then hits its trough on the 24-hour clockf...

About the Instructor

As a professor of neuroscience and psychology at UC Berkeley and the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science, Matthew Walker is an expert on sleep. In this class, he will illuminate the science behind sleep and teach you how to increase the quality and quantity of your sleep. Learn how to prevent sleep debt, navigate the effects of alcohol and caffeine, and improve your health. Your best sleep starts tonight.

Featured Masterclass Instructor

Matthew Walker

Neuroscience professor Matthew Walker teaches you the science of sleep and how to optimize it to better your overall health.

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