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Lark V Night owl

Most of us instinctively know if we're a lark, or an owl. After all, our spirit animal (or bird, as is the case) rules our natural energetic state, from the moment we wake up, to the moment we go to sleep.

If you would rather nap by day, and hunt by night - you're an owl. If you'd prefer to rise early and be in bed by a respectable hour, you're a lark. But our reference to the bird kingdom is more than just affectionate: these constructs, described by researchers as a tendency towards 'morningness' or 'eveningness' have stood the test of time. In the 1970s scientists administered a questionnaire that assessed when its participants liked to wake up, how alert they felt over the day, and at which hour they began to feel tired.

Their findings that the larks of the world, function better in the morning; and that nocturnal creatures are more creative by night - are determined by our natural energy levels and our cognitive power. For example, the mind of a lark is sharpest in the morning; while that of an owl is more focused at night. Scientists refer to this underlying circadian rhythm as our 'chronotype'.

Larks are in their prime during the hours of daylight: they are often unable to take long lie-ins. Owls, on the other hand, find early morning starts difficult, and may take a few hours - and more than one coffee - to feel awake. Larks are less impacted by blue light (emitted by mobile phones, laptops and televisions), while it is thought that owls are more susceptible to its brightness, which mimics natural daylight, and heightens natural alertness. Despite being bright-eyed and bushy-tailed by morning, larks might suffer when it comes to evening engagements, and for this reason often do well to plan social activities during the day. Meanwhile, owls are often criticised for a lack of focus or punctuality throughout the day, and where possible, would be better advised to adopt a more flexible working schedule that better reflects their natural body clock.

Interestingly, most of us start out life as owls - infants wake early then become teenagers who also embrace a more nocturnal rhythm, before evolving into larks in later life. But still, there are those of us who hover somewhere between the two: those who are early to rise and late to bed; and those who are late to wake and early to retire. Perhaps these fluctuations can be attributed to human evolution. As creatures that adapt ever more easily to modifications in lifestyle, sleep patterns and social values, it seems that we're more than capable of embracing a different spirit bird - and taking flight.