Smart larks and minority owls

2 May 2022

There’s a short animation on the BBC website about the difference between larks and owls; those early risers who bounce out of bed trilling against those who need an electronic cattle prod to get them up. Scientific research shows that owls have higher rates of depression and anxiety (me!) and less likely to marry (me again!).  Society is structured around early starts so being a minority owl is a bit of a handicap.

I’ve always been envious of larks and also bewildered. How can a person run a 5k, bake a cake and still be at their desks at 8am while I’m struggling to throw off the duvet. I once attempted to join a friend for a weekly 7 am swim which I only managed twice and it felt like torture. I would rather take out a high-interest loan for a midday flight than book a cheap ‘red-eye’ and catching the dawn chorus is a no-no.

It's only since retiring that I’ve come to fully appreciate my own body clock. I often wake with a big smile knowing I don’t have to force myself up for the commute to work. I take my time getting stuck into tasks at around 12 noon usually wrapping things up between 7 and 8pm.

But this isn’t the whole story because when I’m sliding into depression, or in the depths of it, I wake feeling utterly wretched, hopeless and desperate. Getting up is a major challenge. Even if I’ve gone to bed happy and contented I know there’s a chance I will wake up in the grimmest of moods. Despite knowing it will pass once the cortisol kicks in it takes all my willpower to rise.

A lifetime of this and I’m only just learning that this is my genetic chronotype and things aren’t likely to change. I’m a little old owl in a forest of smart larks and even though I do give a hoot I’m stuck with it.

What about you?


A Moodscope member.

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