We probably all have an idea of whether we’re a night person or a morning person. But when it comes to figuring out when you’re actually most alert, things can get a bit more complicated.
So just how do you determine when you’re most alert?
The MEQ test, or Morningness Eveningness questionnaire, allows you to measure when your circadian rhythm gives you peak alertness, in the morning, at night, or somewhere in between. Usually, peak alertness corresponds with peak body temperature. Thus, if you’re more alert in the evening, that is when your body temperature is highest, and vice versa. This is a fairly easy self assessment with only 19 questions to determine when you are the most alert. There are also shorter versions available with about 5 questions that are more broad.
Why bother to take an MEQ assessment?
It’s important to know when you are most alert so you can plan your day around it. You can schedule activities that require more mental and physical power during the hours when you’re most alert. If you’re more awake in the evening, then that is the best time to get work done. You can determine your circadian rhythm type. It’s also important to know because if you can’t shift your schedule to match your circadian rhythm, you can know you need to use light therapy to shift your body’s natural circadian rhythm.
Does it remain the same?
Keep in mind that your MEQ score changes overtime. You may very well go from a morning lark to an evening owl. As we age, we alternate between morningness and evening. There are a number of factors that must be taken into account, namely gender, but the pattern tends to go from morningness to eveningness and back to morningness. As infants, we’re high morningness, but there’s a turn towards eveningness from as early on as our toddler years. We continue on this path towards dramatically higher eveningness. Around ages 16-19, there’s a slow change back to morningness. During adulthood, there is a gradual return towards morningness although it does not get nearly as high as it was during infancy.