CHAPTER 4 Studies Favoring Morning Larks Are Fatally Flawed: Our Society Is Rigged in Favor of Early Birds

At this point I’ve ranted and raved relentlessly (say that fast 10 times) about the fact that night owls are forced to live, learn, and work in a world that’s still ruled by a centuries-old, farming-centric school and work schedule.

Take today, for instance. I got up 10 minutes before my wife and kids left for the day. As much as I hate getting up at 7:30 a.m., which snarky morning people will laugh at and consider to be very late, I do try to see my kids every day. They’re disappointed when I don’t, although I have a much clearer head on days that I sleep until my usual time. If I do get up even earlier, I’ll go back to bed for another hour or two before getting on with my day.

If researchers were to single me out and ask me to participate in a study comparing the performance and success of night owls with morning larks, I’d jump at the chance—if I knew it were going to be a fair study.

By fair study I mean one that measures participants at all times of day—morning, midday, and night.

However, few do that. Hence the popular myth and the endless articles on websites, blogs, and in business and personal productivity publications touting studies showing that early risers perform better at work and school while night owls fall far behind in performance.

Well, of course early risers do better at work and at school; that’s because these are activities that, save for nighttime ...

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