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Night Owls Are Smarter and Make More Money

Science By
Cropped shot of a young woman asleep on her side (PeopleImages)
Cropped shot of a young woman asleep on her side (PeopleImages)

 

If you’re a night owl, studies are showing that you’re probably smarter and more productive than people with more traditional sleep habits.

In a 1999 study on intelligence and what its authors called “morningness–eveningness,” 420 participants were grouped according to their circadian type (morning persons versus night owls), and their intelligence was measured with psychometric batteries. Night owls, as it turned out, were more likely to have higher intelligence scores.

An earlier study sampled 1,229 senior citizens in England, and found that night owls had more money; and if you were a morning person (referred to in the study as a “lark”), you wouldn’t display any health or cognitive advantages over people who stayed up later. So much for Ben Franklin’s “early to bed, early to rise.”

Based on these assessments, Inc.com advises readers to make peace with their circadian types (meaning don’t try to become a morning person if you aren’t one), and to get at least six hours of sleep a night. They also asked Metronaps CEO Christopher Lindholst (whose company makes those nifty EnergyPod napping chairs) how night owls should leverage their sleeping habits for maximum effectiveness.

Shot of a young businessman drinking coffee during a late night at work (PeopleImages)
Shot of a young businessman drinking coffee during a late night at work (PeopleImages)

 

Lindholst’s advice is pretty straightforward: go to sleep at the same time every night so your body has a pattern to follow; don’t drink caffeine for the first hour you’re awake; and don’t drink any after 2 p.m. He also suggests planning your sleep around 90-minute cycles (light sleep, deep sleep, REM sleep) so you don’t wake up in the middle of one.

“The best way to plan your bedtime is to work backwards from when you need to wake up,” Christopher says. “If you need to get up at 7 a.m., go to bed at either 1 a.m. or 11:30 p.m. That way you get four or five full sleep cycles.”

Even if you’re not up for doing sleep math, take comfort in the fact that your after-dark creative schedule might be a good thing, and don’t let people shame you out of it.