Are you a morning person or an evening person? Do you believe that there’s such a thing, or is it just a question of discipline or laziness? 

If the answer was ‘not really either, I don’t think it’s a thing’, then you’re probably in the 50% of people who are somewhere in between being a morning or evening person. However, research has shown that one in four of us are indeed bright-eyed early risers and one in four are night owls.

It seems we may be consistently losing productivity in the workplace by having a ‘one size fits all’ workday. 

This means that the typical 9am – 6pm workday may be putting the quarter of us who naturally wake late and go to sleep late at a huge disadvantage. Indeed, it could also be problematic for those of us who would prefer to start work at 7 or 8am and go home earlier, if presenteeism in the evening is prevalent at our workplace. So can and should we train ourselves to naturally wake and sleep at times which suit our work schedule?

In short, no we shouldn’t. Katharina Wulff, Oxford University biologist says “If people are left to their naturally preferred times, they feel much better. They say that they are much more productive. The mental capacity they have is much broader.” It seems we may be consistently losing productivity in the workplace by having a ‘one size fits all’ workday. 

This may especially be the case for creative industries. Why? Because the night owl types tend to be creative, right brain dominant people. These are also people who are also more likely to suffer from depression and to report lower satisfaction in life, both of which are commonly known side effects of sleep deprivation. Whether this is correlation or causal is yet unknown. However, we could reasonably deduce that in agencies with a high proportion of employees in creative roles, the number of people in the office who are naturally inclined to later starts and later nights would be even higher than 25%. Therefore, it could be revolutionary to such a company’s productivity to introduce more flexible working hours.

We tend to associate early rising with being more successful and driven. While this could be because early rising people tend to be more left brain dominant (highly analytical types), it could also be largely down to the fact that these people are naturally more aligned to their working hours and can therefore be focused and productive for much more of the day than their night owl colleagues who feel half asleep until noon. 

In order to improve workplace productivity, we may need to seriously shift away from the stigma attached to needing to sleep past 6am or not being able to pull an all nighter  . As someone who believes whole-heartedly in bio-individuality, I’d like to put forward the radical suggestion that ifs we all spent less time trying to change those pesky, stubborn biological tendencies and simply embraced them and learned how to harness them, on both an individual and broader scale, we would get much more done with so much less effort. At Well & Truly workshops, we offer unique productivity and wellbeing training sessions to help companies maximise their employees’ ability to feel, think and work well. Reach out to find out more about how we could help you boost your team’s productivity and happiness.