Most people know, instinctively, whether they are morning people or evening people. Some are hit with a wave of dread whenever they hear a stranger’s iPhone clanging out the same ringtone as their morning alarm. Others can be found yawning into their second beer at 10 p.m. on a Friday. (For those who aren’t sure, countless online questionnaires can tell you whether you should be catching the worm or not.)
Our chronotypes are largely a function of when our bodies start and stop producing melatonin, the sleepiness hormone. Elementary and middle schoolers tend to be early risers, but productivity begins to shift to later in the day as people enter their teens and early 20s. Over time, the body slowly returns to its early-bird state. By the time we’re senior citizens, we’re back up and at Denny’s before 7. Most research suggests that people perform best on various tasks at their “optimal” time of day. The brain is sharper, it’s thought, when the body is fully awake.
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