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Night owls may make natural amateur astronomers.

A night owl, evening person or simply owl, is a person who tends to stay up until late at night.

The opposite of a night owl is an early bird, a lark as opposed to owl, someone who tends to begin sleeping at a time that is considered early and also wakes early. In several countries, especially in Scandinavia, early birds are called "A-people" and night owls are called "B-people".[1][2] Researchers traditionally use the terms "morningness" and "eveningness"[3] for the two chronotypes or diurnality and nocturnality in animal behavior.


Origins of termEdit

The term is derived from the primarily nocturnal habits of the owl. Usually, people who are night owls stay awake past midnight and extreme night owls may stay awake until just before or after dawn.[4] Night owls tend to feel most energetic just before they go to sleep at night. Some night owls have a preference or habit for staying up late, or stay up to work the night shift. Night owls who work the day shift often have difficulties adapting to standard day-time working hours.

Owls, like this one in Poland, are often nocturnal.


Researchers have found that the genetic make-up of the circadian timing system underpins the difference between early and late chronotypes, early birds and night owls.[5] Some night owls who have great difficulty adopting normal sleeping and waking times may have delayed sleep-phase disorder. Morning light therapy may be helpful in shifting sleep rhythms for the night owl.[6]

While it has been suggested that circadian rhythms may change over time, turning lark to owl or vice versa,[7][8] evidence for familial patterns of early or late waking would seem to contradict this.[9]

Night owls have often been blamed for unpunctuality or attitude problems.[10] Employers, however, have begun to learn to increase productivity by respecting body clocks through flexible working hours,[11] while the Danish "B-Society" of night owls[12] and the American Start School Later movement lobby actively for more school and workplace flexibility for the post-agricultural world.[13]

Some research has found that night owls are more intelligent and creative and more likely to get high-paying jobs than larks. A study among 1000 adolescents by the University of Madrid found that owls are better than early birds in intuitive intelligence, creative thinking and inductive reasoning. However, they lag behind larks in academic performance[14] and they tend to have unhealthier eating habits.[15]


Discussions and studies about the prevalence of morning, evening, and indifferent or intermediate chronotypes use different criteria and come to different results. Some ask what time people do go to sleep and wake up—others ask what time people would prefer to, while researchers like Till Roenneberg's team consider the difference between a person's sleep times on work/school days versus on free days. One survey of over 400 adults showed approximately 15% morning people, 25% evening people, and 60% intermediates.[16]

Famous exemplarsEdit

Literary examplesEdit

For Robert Louis Stevenson, "there is a romance about all those who are abroad in the black hours."[30]

In Jayne Ann Krentz's Truth or Dare, "Arcadia and Harry were both creatures of the night. They managed to appear oddly stylish at one-thirty in the morning."[31]

British author Hilary Rubinstein wrote: "Blessed are the owls, for they shall inherit the mystery and magic of the night."[32]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ James, Kyle (1 March 2007). "Late Sleepers in Denmark Rally for Societal Change". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  2. ^ Morris, Chris (14 June 2007). "Late risers unite in Denmark". BBC News Channel. Retrieved 2009-11-01. 
  3. ^ Horne JA, Östberg O (1976). "A self-assessment questionnaire to determine morningness-eveningness in human circadian rhythms". Int J Chronobiol. 4 (2): 97–110. PMID 1027738. 
  4. ^ Stefan Klein, Time (2008) p. 20
  5. ^ Philip Lee Williams, On the Morning (2006) p. 41
  6. ^ Laura H. Smith/Charles H. Elliott, Seasonal Affective Disorder for Dummies (2007) p. 73
  7. ^ Jeff Belanger/Kirsten Dalley, The Nightmare Encyclopedia (2005) p. 83
  8. ^ Walker, R. J., Kribs, Z. D., Christopher, A. N., Shewach, O. R., & Wieth, M. B. (2014). Age, the Big Five, and time-of-day preference: A mediational model. Personality and Individual Differences, 56, 170–174.
  9. ^ Klein, p. 21
  10. ^ Gayle Greene, Insomniac (2008) p. 345
  11. ^ Klein, p. 33
  12. ^ Greene, p. 345
  13. ^ Greene, p. 345
  14. ^ "IF YOU WANT TO GET AHEAD, BE A NIGHT OWL" by Roger Dobson; THE INDEPENDENT March 24, 2013
  15. ^ Walker, R. J., Christopher, A. N., Wieth, M. B., & Buchanan, J. (2015). Personality, time-of-day preference, and eating behavior: The mediational role of morning-eveningness. Personality and Individual Differences, 77, 13–17.
  16. ^ Schur, Carolyn (1994). "excerpt". Birds of a Different Feather. Saskatoon, Canada: Schur Goode Associates. ISBN 0-9698190-0-5. Retrieved 2009-07-20. 
  17. ^ Buncombe, Andrew (2 July 2016). "Barack Obama: The nocturnal habits of America's 'night guy' president revealed". The Independent. Retrieved 19 January 2018. 
  18. ^ "11 Bizarre Sleeping Habits Of Highly Successful People". SF Gate. 
  19. ^ "Authors' sleep patterns & productivity". ShortList. 
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Daily Rituals: Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, and other artists who did great work in the wee hours". Slate. 
  21. ^ "Authors' sleep patterns & productivity". shortList. 
  22. ^ "The Vulture Transcript: Fran Lebowitz on Sarah Palin, Keith Richards, Her Side Career As a Law & Order Judge, and Much More". Vulture. 
  23. ^ "On the Cover: Marilyn Manson". Spin. 2007-05-17. Retrieved 2018-03-11. 
  24. ^ Buckley, William F. Miles Gone Bye: A Literary Autobiography. Regnery Publishing. ISBN 978-0895260895. 
  25. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: Inside Prince's Secret Midnight Outings". Antoinette Bueno. 
  26. ^ McCullough, David. Truman. Simon & Schuster. p. 508. ISBN 978-0671456542. 
  27. ^ McKeen, William. Outlaw Journalist: The Life and Times of Hunter S. Thompson. W. W. Norton & Company. p. 104. ISBN 978-0-393-06192-5. Sandy maintained the house, tiptoeing around until three o'clock in the afternoon, Hunter's usual waking hour. 
  28. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey (2014-03-04). J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. ISBN 9780547524429. 
  29. ^ Elsworth, Catherine. "Travolta turns night owl to protect privacy". Retrieved 2016-03-07. 
  30. ^ Quoted in Rubinstein p. 211
  31. ^ Jayne Ann Krentz, Truth and Dare (Penguin 2004) p. 258
  32. ^ Hilary Rubinstein, The Complete Insomniac (London 1974) p. 19

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit