The latest research suggests that night people might actually be healthier, wealthier and wiser than morning people.
Ben Franklin famously said, “early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.” However, research suggests that it might be quite the opposite.
In fact, night people could be more intelligent and generally wealthier. As for the health, well, there isn’t any indication that night people are any less healthy than morning people, though they may be more prone to having bad habits such as smoking and drinking.
Scientists call whether you are a morning a person or a night person your chronotype. They also use the term larks to describe morning people and night owls for those who are more active later in the day. There have been several recent studies into the differences between these chronotypes and whether they actually signify any difference in intelligence, success and other aspects of lifestyle and personality.
1. Night people are more intelligent
Psychologist Richard D. Roberts of the University of Sydney and Patrick C. Kyllonen of the Air Force Research Lab completed a study into chronotypes in 1999 published in Personality and Individual Differences. They measured the chronotype of 420 test participants then administered intelligence tests.
The study found that night people marginally outperformed morning people on most of the intelligence measures. The most significant differences were found in working memory and processing speed. These findings were true even when the tests were taken in the morning.
2. Morning people aren’t wealthier
Catharine Gale and Christopher Martyn from MRC Environmental Epidemiology Unit, Southampton University, also studied chronotypes.
They analyzed a national sample of men and women who’d been surveyed years earlier on sleep patterns as well as measures related to health, wealth, and wisdom. The group included 356 larks and 318 owls. The results showed that overall night owls had larger incomes than larks.
3. Night people get more booty.
A study, led by Christoph Randler of the University of Education Heidelberg in Germany, studied 284 male participants for correllations between chronotype and sexual behavior. The study controlled for age, extraversion, and a tendency to stay out later.
The results indicated that both morning and evening types were equally sexually active. However, those with an owl type personality reported more total partners. Night owls were also more closely linked to infidelity.
4. Night people are more likely to smoke and drink
While in general, chronotype had no effect on health, studies do suggest that night people are more likely to indulge in risky behaviors such as smoking and drinking.
A Finnish study looked at 676 adults twins. They found that night people were more likely to be smokers, compared with morning people. Another study of 537 individuals found that night people consume more alcohol than those who are up with the larks.
5. Morning people may be happier.
In a 2012 paper, University of Toronto psychologists found that morning people generally experience better moods. They assessed a sample of 435 young adults and 297 older adults on their chronotypes as well as their current moods. The researchers found that morning people had a higher mood generally, compared with night people.
However, this may be a result of society’s preference for people to be more active during the daytime. This disconnect between night people’s naturally tendencies and societies expectations may mean night people have to force them to do things at times that don’t suit them, leading to possible distress, sleep disturbances and consequently lower moods.
There seems to be little significant difference between the health, wealth, and wisdom of morning and night people. However, it seems to have become a widely held belief that morning people are in some way better. So for those of you who are night people, take comfort that there is no need to feel guilty for staying up late and not getting up with the lark.