night owls intelligent

We’ve all heard the term “the early bird catches the worm” and whilst it may be true that those who get up early have a jump start on the day before others are even out of bed, it’s been proven that night owls, or the people who prefer to stay up late and work into the night, are probably more intelligent.

Psychology Today [1] reported that night owls generally have a higher IQ than those who prefer to get up early and go to bed at a reasonable hour.

Almost every species on earth has a circadian rhythm, which in layman’s terms is a scheduled routine determined by nerve cells which means they have a biological clock which tells them when it’s time to sleep. However, humans have the cognitive ability to override this internal clock and their body becomes used to the sleep patterns we choose for ourselves.

A study [1] was completed on young Americans and showed that children who were more intelligent grew up to be more nocturnal than their less intelligent counterparts. Similarly, psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa carried out extensive research [2] into the connection between sleep patterns and intelligence. Kanazawa theorizes that whilst our ancestors 10,000 years ago used to rise and fall with the sun much like our animal friends following their circadian rhythm, advances in technology have allowed intelligent brains to ignore that impulse and search for stimulation late at night.

His results showed that people with an IQ of less than 75 roughly went to bed around 11:41pm on a weeknight and rose at 7:20am. Whereas, those with an IQ of 125 and above didn’t go to sleep until approximately 12:29pm on a weeknight, rising at 7:52am. These times changed considerably on weekends, with the higher IQ’s choosing to stay in bed until 11am, whereas the lower IQ participants rose at around 10am.

People like to argue about why some people prefer to stay up late and wake up later, giving reasons such as rebellion, challenging authority or even the impression of peace and quiet that darkness gives. Whatever the reasons behind night owls late-night tendencies, one thing has certainly been proven from the studies into this field – more intelligent people stay up later. So the next time your parents, roommate or significant other comment on your late nights or midday rises, show them this article!

Are you a night owl or an early riser? Do you agree with these studies? Let us know!



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I'm a psychology student with a passion for books, good food and movies. I can often be found reading self-help articles snuggled up in bed with a cup of coffee or writing about anything and everything in a quiet cafe somewhere.