Night Owl, Early Bird or a Bit of Both?


So, you’re a busy financial professional with a variety of people leaning on you for support, be it executives attempting to make sense of departmental budgets or small business clients attempting to navigate federal aid for the first time. There doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day, so, you do one of two things: stay up, working late into the night or get to bed early to get a head start on ye olde to-do list before the sun even knows it’s supposed to be rising. Or maybe you determine your bedtime sporadically, based solely on what you have to do or how you are feeling at the time.

For those that stay up late – either to wrap up a project or to snag that small slice of freedom found only in the wee hours of the morning, while everyone else is sleeping and the phone isn’t buzzing – your morning is a groggy blur of not-enough-coffee and a forgettable commute. Even on those rare occasions you get to sleep in, it hardly seems to make a difference in how tired you feel. Conversely, those that wake early and go to bed before midnight wake up feeling recharged and ready to conquer the day’s challenges. However, often those early mornings can see all that energy flagging fast in the bottom half of the day. Friends are asking you to join them for trivia night, but you doubt your ability to avoid falling asleep between one pop culture quiz and the next. Maybe you fall somewhere in the middle, but you could really go for a long afternoon nap just about any day of the week.

So, which approach is more right? According to various studies, it all comes down not to personal preference or what one can bear, but to overall good health. According to U.S. News & World Report, if a one is unable to get the body’s required minimum amount of hours’ sleep per night, physical effects are unavoidable. For the chronically sleep deprived, those that rarely manage at least six hours of sleep per night over a 10-year period are 45% more likely to experience a heart attack1. For night owls averaging five hours of sleep or less, you could be in the danger zone.

Further, consistency is just as important as knowing when to call it quits in the evening. According to The Washington Post, variability in sleep habits also affect mood and depression2. The truth is, waking up early is great, but because most of us adhere to traditional working hours, consistency in sleep is even better. That means, when early birds arrive at the weekend and decide to throw off their schedule in favor of trivia night, the “social jetlag” that follows could last days as the body’s cortisol and melatonin levels return to normal.

So, whether you’re an irritating morning person or an absolute vampire, so long as your body is getting the necessary six to eight hours of sleep, consistently, either approach can be part of a healthy routine. Staying up until one in the morning and rising seven hours later to get to the office by nine is perfectly okay. Conversely, rolling into bed at nine in the evening and waking up at four to get a head start on the day is also healthy if it is maintainable. However, if you find yourself vacillating wildly between the two on any given day, the time to pick one or the other has arrived. You can be either, but no one should try to be both.

Are you a creature of the night? Or an early-rising morning star? There are benefits to both lifestyles but the debate over which is better has little to do with when you choose to fall asleep. The MICPA explores the pros & cons in this article. But what do you prefer? Let us know on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter!

  1. Madell, Robin. “How Late Should You Stay Up Working?U.S. News & World Report. 5 Sept. 2017. Accessed on 20 Aug. 2021.
  2. Moore, Pam. “Good Sleep Means More Than Getting Enough Hours…The Washington Post. 30 Apr. 2021. Accessed on 20 Aug. 2021.

Source: MICPA

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