Monday, November 22, 2010

Night owls vs. morning people: Who's smarter?

New York – Recent evidence shows that people who thrive at night have higher IQs. Early risers beg to differ
Are you the type who stays up late to finish your work, or do you get up early to make a fresh start on the day? If it's the former, you may be pleased to learn new research has found that those with higher IQs tend to be nocturnal night-owls. But if it's the latter, you might have good reason to distrust the claim. Here's an instant guide:

Is there solid science behind this finding?

Sleep researchers tend to divide people into two groups, explains zoologist Robert Alison in the Winnipeg Free Press, based on whether they exhibit "morningness" or "eveningness." A recent study claims that eveningness is an evolutionary advancement that marks out "more intelligent individuals," while "those with lower IQs tend to restrict their activities primarily to daytime."

How can that be?

Researchers from the London School of Economics say that human beings used to all be day-oriented, and that eveningness is an "evolutionarily novel preference" made by people with "a higher level of cognitive complexity." Basically, smart people evolve to stay up later.

I want to get more intelligent. Can I just start staying up late?

It isn't that simple. Several studies have shown that your sleep preferences are at least 50 percent genetic, and that your chronotype — that is, the time of day you are at your physical and mental peak — changes with your age. Generally speaking, "eveningness" peaks in the late teens and early 20s.

Are there any downsides to "eveningness"?

Night owls tend to be less reliable, more emotionally unstable, and more likely to have problems with addictions and eating disorders, according to a 2008 study by psychologist Marina Giamnietro. They are also more likely to drink alcohol and smoke, says Dutch psychiatrist Walter van den Broek at his Dr. Shock blog. Another study found that undergrad "evening types" had lower GPAs than those who awake early in the morning.

Is there any advantage to being a morning person?

Early risers tend to be more conscientious, persistent, and apt to cooperate, says van den Broek, a self-described morning person. They also "cope better with academic requirements and receive better grades." And when you think about it, adds Ace Burpee in the Winnipeg Free Press, "there are no sayings about late birds getting some sort of way better tasting worm."

Which am I?

If you're unsure, this test will tell you where you fit on the morningness-eveningness spectrum.

Sources: Winnipeg Free Press (2), Disinformation, Dr. Shock, ScienceDaily
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Anonymous said...

The reason morning people get higher GPAs and are more reliable and such is simply because the world runs on their optimum schedule. According to research done by the University of Alberta, night owls' most efficient time is at around 9 PM. Not many exams take place at 9PM, but rather at 9 AM. Which is a night owl's least efficient time, and an early bird's highest. This means that early birds naturally have an academic advantage, even though they do not have an intellectual one. And they are seen as more reliable because people measure reliability by how often you show up on time IN THE MORNING. I wish the world worked on my schedule, because even though I must wake up early for work, I usually stay a few hours late because I do my best work in the evening. I am an aircraft maintenance engineer so my work must be completely reliable and safe, so I have no choice but to work long hours to ensure that i take advantage of the most efficient time of day for me and so i can be confident that my work is perfect. I would much rather work from Noon until 10PM. Then I would get more work done due to more sleep, and i would not waste time in the morning. We are more prone to addictions because of what people tend to do at our most active time. An early bird spends his best time in the office, we spend ours with our friends at the bar, or things of that nature. Overall i believe that being forced by the norms of society to run on someone else's schedule is extremely detrimental, I cannot sleep before 2 AM under any circumstances. This leads to very short nights and tired days, especially mornings. So i'm sure if the world's schedule was shifted 12 hours, these patterns would change as night owls were given more convenience and, in turn, a much more efficient use of our time. FYI, it is currently 1:45 AM where I am right now, 2:45 AM where I'm used to. And I am less tired than I was at 10 in the morning. Morning and night people are not inferior or superior to eachother. We simply run at peak efficiency at different times.

Stacy Leiser said...

Cool study. Finally a counterpoint to the argument that sleeping until noon means I'm lazy. Come back at midnight and see what I'm doing while the early birds are snoozing.

Anonymous said...

I worked night shift for 12 years & was never tired. Got a day job because I had children & I don't know which end is up anymore! I try to stay on a day schedule, but the night always beckons. Now I just catch up on sleep if I don't have anything planned on my days off, which means I'm only well rested about once a month. It's a painful life but still truly impossible to sleep at night no matter how tired I am. The body is exhausted but the mind is super active building things & problem solving. Some of my best ideas come at night!

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