MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This week, three Americans have won the Nobel Prize for their years of work on circadian rhythms. Their research helps scientists better understand how animal and plant body clock adapts to their physiology during the day.
So, are we born morning people or night owls? Good Question.
If you ask someone what they are – they can tell you right away.
“I have my alone time in the morning,” says one Mahtomedi morning person.
“My grandparents are morning people,” says night-owl from Hudson. “They always ask, why do you sleep so late.”
Dr. Andrew Stiehm is a sleep expert with Allina Health. He says there is an element of humans’ circadian rhythm that’s genetic.
“There is both a behavioral and biological tendency,” he says.
Researchers know there is one big thing that affects a person’s body clock – melatonin, which is a hormone the body makes. When it gets darker outside, the more melatonin a person makes, which increases the circadian desire to go to sleep.
Dr. Stiehm says genes can partly determine when that melatonin strikes each day. When asked why my “night owl” husband and my “morning person” self are different, he responded that their melatonin peaks are different.
“He wants to go to bed later, his melatonin surge is probably later,” he says. “You want to go to bed earlier, your melatonin peak is probably earlier.”
People can change from a morning person to night owl – or vice versa – by changing when they wake up or go to sleep.
Dr. Stiehm says a person would have to pick a wake-up time and stick to it – no snooze buttons, no sleeping in on the weekends. He also adds when a person wakes up, they should be exposed to light.