Most people believe that night owl behavior is the result of a personality trait. You must be lazy or irresponsible or undisciplined. This is a misconception. Night owls may, in fact, demonstrate the traits noted, but these are not the reason for their night owl schedule preference. Night owls are night owls because they were born that way. They are behaving the way their body was programmed to behave.
Genes in our body determine our sleeping and waking preferences. Scientists have found this to be the case in animals and humans, and now scientific research is underway to determine which genes are the determinants of these characteristics. Karen Wager Smith at Scripps University is one such researcher. She is attempting to verify night owl and early bird behavioral characteristics with the associated genetic markers.
This information will add to our understanding of how behavioral characteristics may be determined by physiological factors, but for night owls, it will be a significant validation of the claim that “I can’t seem to change.” Night owls who try to change their schedules to be more consistent with an early bird schedule are either not successful or find that they become fatigued and even ill. This difficulty is a result of trying to work against our natural physiology. The best solution is to learn how to live comfortably without compromising what you were designed to be.