We’ve all got our own natural rhythms and predispositions to having more energy either in the morning or at night. But are night owls smarter and more creative than the average bird? Studies have shown that those who stay up late are generally smarter, more creative, and willing to think outside the box to discover solutions.
Now, every teenager in the Western Hemisphere, and perhaps the world, can tell their parents that they aren’t just lazy and undisciplined while they sleep ‘til 11am. They might actually have higher IQ’s than their early bird counterparts and could possibly be more successful as an adult as well.
What Makes You a Night Owl?
The preference for being a morning person or a night person has part of its basis in your genes. Researchers at the company 23andMe found 15 regions of the human genome that are linked to being a morning person, including seven regions associated with genes regulating circadian rhythm, the body’s internal clock.
Each of us has our own body clock that follows a circadian rhythm. Even plants and animals have circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. Natural factors in your body can produce a circadian rhythm and your genes affect this process.
These natural processes also respond to signals from your environment, primarily light and dark. One example of a light-related circadian rhythm is sleeping at night and being awake during the day.
Your circadian rhythm can get out of sync through jet lag, working a night job and sleeping throughout the day, and even the light from electronic devices at night. The hormone melatonin helps us fall asleep, but our body needs to see that it’s dark in order to create it at the levels needed to sleep.
Benefits of Being a Night Person
I have a friend who’s a morning person and swears by a daily 30-minute nap. I’m a night person who can’t nap at all. My sister “turns into a pumpkin” and can’t keep her eyes open around 9pm, without fail, every night. Another friend of mine doesn’t need an alarm clock to wake, regardless of what time he needs to get up. It can be difficult for a night person to function in a world that values early morning office and school hours, but there are perks as well:
Night people tend to diverge from conventional habits and norms, which might help them develop a non-conventional spirit as well, along with the ability to find new and original solutions and alternatives to problems.
A study conducted by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan tested participants in a range of ages. Each participant was given an activity that required them to complete pictures composed with only straight and curved lines. The night owls passed the test with no problem. Those who considered themselves morning people struggled to achieve an average score.
A by-product of increased creativity is also a higher IQ. Straying from the norms of circadian rhythms might be a form of evolution. People with divergent circadian rhythms are considered more intelligent than those with typical rhythms.
Less Tired During the Day & Can Be More Productive
Night owls maximize their evenings and hit their peak strength around 9pm. Morning people maximize the early hours of the day and often hit their peak strength around 9am, followed by a continual downhill slope in energy from there.
This is all connected with their central nervous system and spinal cord excitability. Morning people lose steam by the evening, but night people can work until they hit the pillow.
Better productivity is one aspect of great career achievement. Intelligence comes into play as well. According to The Independent, night owls expressed more of the kind of intelligence that has been linked to better jobs and higher incomes.
To be fair, morning people tend to get better grades in school, so it’s a toss-up here. Perhaps if exams were held in the evening the night owls might do as well or better than their early bird counterparts.
A study at the University of Southampton compared the socioeconomic status of 1,229 people with their sleeping habits. Researchers found that those who went to bed after 11pm and woke up after 8am tended to earn more money and reported feeling happier.
Inductive reasoning helps us create conclusions based on a group of given true facts. It’s considered a sign of intelligence and predictor of academic and career success. A study from the University of Madrid tested the various skills of 1,000 teenagers, and found that those considered to be night owls scored the highest on the inductive reasoning portions of the test.
That sense of quiet in the morning, before the world wakes up is something that you can experience all night when you’re a night owl. There’s a sense of less happening at night, less distraction, which allows for the possibility of better relaxation and creative time.
Newborns don’t operate on the same circadian rhythm as adults, so people who are used to being up at night can have an easier time adjusting to their newborn child who generally wakes up every two to four hours. Being a night owl can also help when there’s an illness or a need to take care of someone throughout the night.
In Good Company
If you’re a night owl, you might actually in the majority. While 70% of the population has moderate sleeping habits, about 10% are morning people, and the remaining 20% consider themselves night owls, according to Aachen University in Germany.
Regardless of where your circadian rhythm lands on the scale of morning person, night person or somewhere in-between, studies show that there are indeed benefits to being a night owl. Making the most of your body’s natural circadian rhythms could make the difference in your health and wellbeing as well as your success in the world.
There is a romance about all those who are abroad in the black hours.” ―
Bloom Post is a freelance writer, ceremonialist, teacher, and author of the books Shaman’s Toolbox: Practical Tools for Powerful Transformation and Plant Spirit Totems. For more information: www.BloomPost.com