We all know that person, the self-professed ‘morning person’ who somehow jumps out of their bed awake, aware, happy and ready to face the day. There is no time too early for them, always ready and eager to face the day.
I don’t know about you, but that description definitely doesn’t fit me. Hitting my snooze alarm a half dozen times, I eventually roll out of bed looking like something out of a horror movie. Stumbling to my kitchen looking like a character from a zombie apocalypse movie, I can finally perk up and begin to communicate like a normal human being only after I’ve enjoyed my first cup of coffee. Sound familiar?
If you’re a night owl like me I have some great news for you – New research out of the London School of Economics reveals that night owls are both smarter and more creatively inclined than their morning loving friends!
Lead researcher and psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa gathered a total of 20,745 adolescents from 52 middle schools and 80 high schools, seeking to discover whether or not there is a correlation between children’s sleep habits and intelligence. Each of the participants was asked to take an intelligence test. Five years later Kanazawa then interviewed 15,197 of the original participants. By comparing their intelligence scores to the times that the participants both woke up and went to bed on weekdays and weekends, Kanazawa discovered an interesting trend – Those that ranked higher in intelligence were more likely to be night owls.
The research directly contradicts the old adage that the ‘early bird gets the worm.’ The research isn’t saying that early birds are less intelligent in any way, there are certainly intelligent early birds out there dominating the world they live in. However, it does show that those who rate high on the intelligence spectrum statistically stay awake longer. As Kanazawa himself explains, “more intelligent individuals are more likely to be nocturnal than less intelligent individuals.”
Breaking down the data in an article for Psychology Today, Kanazawa revealed that those who had a childhood IQ of less than 75, or ‘very dull,’ reported going to bed on around 23:41 on weeknights as an adult. On the other end of the spectrum, the participants who had a childhood IQ of over 125, or ‘very bright’ reported going to bed around 00:29.
One reason, according to researchers is that night owls remain mentally alert for a longer period of time throughout the day than early birds. A 2009 study followed the habits of both 15 extreme night owls and 16 extreme early birds, measuring their brain activity both in the morning, approximately an hour and a half after they woke up, and again 10.5 hours later. While both groups performed incredibly well in the morning test, the researchers found that the night owls were more awake and had a better reaction time during the second test. Furthermore, the researchers concluded that while early birds appear to be more active during the daytime work hours, night owls maintain a more consistent level of productivity throughout the day.
So, if you wake up tomorrow and hit snooze for the 3rd time, don’t worry! It may just be a sign of your incredibly high intelligence!