Daily Mail - - Life -

ALTHOUGH we all have peaks and troughs, we don’t ex­pe­ri­ence the day in quite the same way.

Each of us has a ‘chrono­type’ or body clock — a per­sonal pat­tern of cir­ca­dian rhythms that af­fects our minds and bod­ies.

Hence the con­cept of ‘larks’ and ‘owls’ — the for­mer get up early and feel en­er­gised dur­ing the day, while owls wake long af­ter sun­rise and don’t be­gin peak­ing un­til the late af­ter­noon or early evening.

To work out what type of body clock you have, here’s a sim­ple test. Think about your be­hav­iour on days when you don’t have to get up early. Here are three ques­tions: 1. What time do you usu­ally go to sleep? 2. What time do you usu­ally wake up? 3. What is the mid­dle of those two times — ie, what is your mid-point of sleep? (If you typ­i­cally fall asleep around 11.30pm and wake up at 7.30am, your mid-point is 3.30am.)

If your mid-point is be­tween mid­night and 3am, you are a lark (14 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion). If it is be­tween 6am and noon, you are an owl (21 per cent). Most likely, you’re nei­ther a com­plete lark nor a com­plete owl but a ‘third bird’, some­where in the mid­dle. Our genes dic­tate at least half of the way our body clocks be­have. The other half is de­ter­mined by age. Most young chil­dren are larks. They wake early, fly around dur­ing the day and flag in the evening. Around pu­berty, they be­gin mor­ph­ing into owls. They wake up later at week­ends and go to bed long af­ter their par­ents. They reach their peak ‘ow­li­ness’ at around 20, then slowly re­turn to lark­i­ness, fi­nally be­com­ing even ear­lier-ris­ers in later life than they were as chil­dren. All of us ex­pe­ri­ence the day in three stages: a peak, a trough and a re­cov­ery. Around 75 to 80 per cent of us ex­pe­ri­ence it in that or­der. But one in four, the night owls, ex­pe­ri­ence the day in the reverse or­der: re­cov­ery, trough, peak. As so­ci­ety is ar­ranged for the larks or ‘third birds’, owls are like left­handers in a right-handed world. To make the best for your­self, work out your own habits and try to do your most vi­tal work when you’re at your peak.

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