He Always Had Late Nights, Why He May Be Smarter And More Creative Than Us All
Sure, the early bird gets the worm but can the night owl outsmart us all? Recent research suggests that late-nighters may have the edge over those perky, obnoxious early risers among us.
Late-Nighters Break The Mold
Satoshi Kanazawa, a British scientist, says night owls tend to have higher IQs than those who start their day early. He also believes this is a relatively new phenomenon, evolutionarily speaking. Our ancestors had to work in daylight hours and breaking that centuries-old habit takes a higher level of creativity and intelligence, he reasons. In an article for Psychology Today, he says that the intelligence to break out of the early-to-bed rut can show up at a tender age.
"More intelligent children grow up to be more nocturnal as adults than less intelligent children.''
Kanazawa is one of a growing number of researchers trying to determine if night owls have the advantage over those of us who turn in early.
Could Night Owls Be Onto Something?
Recently Italian researchers tested more than 100 people on their creativity. Self-described "night people'' aced the tests, leaving those who considered themselves "morning'' and ''intermediate'' types in the dust.
The study's lead author, Marina Giampietro told ABC News that the creative participants showed a "development of a non-conventional spirit and the ability to find alternative and original solutions.''
Spanish researchers also found that students who stayed up later (and woke up later) -- just the kind of kids who get dirty looks from teachers -- did better on general-intelligence tests.
Night Owls and Early Risers Wired Differently
University of Liege in Belgium researchers conducted a study that looked at the differences in reaction and attention times between night owls and morning larks. When given a task to do soon after waking up, both groups did well. But then they were given a task ten hours after their day began. The night owls did the task more quickly and efficiently than early risers.
Researchers say this shows that there is kind of a pull-push mechanism in the brain. Circadian hormones keep us alert while awake but sleep pressure causes us to be sleepier the longer we are awake. Somehow, night owls are able resist sleep pressure better than their counterparts. Once they are awake, they stay awake.
Up Late, Rise Late, No Stress?
Yet another study suggests that there are health benefits to when people sleep in and get up later. British researchers found that people waking up earlier had higher levels of cortisol, which is the body's main stress hormone, than people who slept in. Early risers also had more muscle aches, colds, bad moods and headaches, says Angela Chow, of University of Westminster.
"Early awakening was associated with greater powers of concentration, being busier and experiencing more hassles throughout the day. . . on the other, late wakers were more leisurely and less busy.''
Less stress -- chalk up one more advantage to the night owls.
It's All In Your Genes
More creativity. Higher intelligence levels. Better health. After reading all these studies looking at the benefits of night-owl living, do you want to change your ways and stay up late and get up even later?
It may not work for you. Turns out that our genes dictate a lot of our sleep patterns. We are more or less divided into morning people and night people and that is genetically pre-determined, says neurogeneticist Louis Ptacek, of the University of California.
Instead of fighting your genetic destiny, why not embrace it and just get a good night's sleep whenever that may be.