The Matt Walker Podcast

#06: Chronotype: Part 3

October 11, 2021 Dr. Matt Walker
The Matt Walker Podcast
#06: Chronotype: Part 3
Show Notes

In the final episode of our three-part series about chronotypes, Matt examines the question of  whether your chronotype is truly fixed, or if you can change an evening type to a morning type (though you will hear that Matt’s preference is for society to change, not the individual). 

Matt reviews a fascinating study by an Australian-lead research team that tried to turn night owls into morning larks. Participants had to follow a series of strict rules over the course of a three-week study. This included things such as: setting an alarm to wake up two to three hours earlier than their normal wake time, eating breakfast first thing after waking up, getting outside for as much natural daylight as possible, and not having any caffeine after 3pm. 

As you’ll hear from Matt, the experiment was...somewhat successful. By the end of the study, evening types went to bed about two hours earlier than usual, managing to get to be around 12:30am, instead of 2:30am. In addition, their performance on several standardized cognitive tasks also improved expressly during the morning hours, when night owls typically struggle the most. 

However, as Matt points out, participants were still opting to go to bed after midnight, which is far from morning night-owl-like, and far from being turned into a morning type. It is also unlikely these individuals could continue with this rigid new set of experimental guidelines across the long-term, for their entire lifespans.

In other words, the results are fascinating, but the practice itself may not be sustainable in the real world. Instead, Matt's wish is that we simply allow evening types to sleep in harmony with their genetic chronotype. If night owls were able to sleep and wake up when they are biologically designed to, the world would be a happier, healthier place indeed.

Please note that Matt is not a medical doctor and none of the content in this podcast should be considered as medical advice in any way, shape, or form, nor prescriptive in any way.

The episode is sponsored by the wonderful folks over at Athletic Greens, who are providing a discount and free product if you use the link above. Athletic Greens is a comprehensive daily nutritional beverage containing 75 vitamins, minerals, and whole food-sourced ingredients, including a multivitamin, multimineral, probiotic.

So, head on over to Athletic Greens and get a free year supply of Vitamin D and 5 free travel packs today. Finally, if you have thoughts or feedback you’d like to share, please reach out on Instagram @drmattwalker.

Basic Resources 

Discover your chronotype: AutoMEQ: Automated Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire (AutoMEQ)

Scientific Review: Biological Rhythm and Chronotype