"Teenagers and young adults have what we call a 'shifted' or ‘delayed’ pattern," Dr. Ancoli-Israel says. "Their whole rhythm is such that their core body temperature doesn't drop till somewhere in the late night or early morning hours, so they don't get sleepy until midnight, 1, or even 2 in the morning." The "normal" people outgrow this and become effective, functioning adults.
But what about the people with a delayed genetic chronotype? They may actually stay this way forever.
Living as a night owl in an early-bird world just ain't easy
To figure out whether you have a typical, delayed (night owl), or advanced (early bird) pattern -- see how these terms are already loaded?! -- you can take a simple quiz like this fun illustrated one.
But really, you usually just know. If you have a delayed chronotype, you're probably pretty pro at partying, because while others order vodka Red Bulls, you’re good to go with vodka sodas. Everyone congratulates you on this, but the weekdays are a problem. "These people can’t go to sleep when the rest of us do, because their bodies are just not ready to sleep. It would be like the rest of us trying to go to bed at 6 in the evening," says Dr. Ancoli-Israel. "And of course they have a very hard time getting up in the morning, when most people are getting up, because then that’' like the middle of the night for them." Getting up in the middle of the night at least five days a week?! Just imagining that is painful.