The Early Bird Gets … Stupid?

By Alyse Borkan  |  Sep 25, 2014
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Generally speaking, one in ten people is a morning lark. Early to bed, early to rise, these people are way too happy in the morning. Two in ten are night owls: those who enjoy staying up late and then have to rush to work in the morning because they overslept. The rest of us fall somewhere on the spectrum between them.

The early bird may get the worm, but the early bird is sort of dumb, according to some recent research. IQ and sleep patterns are linked. Intelligent people are much more likely to stay up later than their more dense counterparts. Morning larks are dumb, night owls are smart.

A survey of young Americans shows that those with IQs less than 75, on average, went to sleep at 11:41 p.m. Normal IQs, ranging from 90 to 110, went to sleep 30 minutes later, and the super intelligent (IQ over 125) waited another 20 minutes still.

IQ < 75 90 < IQ < 110 IQ > 125
Weekday 11:41 p.m. – 7:20 a.m. 12:10 a.m. – 7:32 a.m. 12:29 a.m. – 7:52 a.m.
Weekend 12:35 a.m. – 10:09 a.m. 1:13 a.m. – 10:14 a.m. 1:44 a.m. – 11:07 a.m.

Being a night owl isn’t a normal thing for humans, regardless of how smart we are. Our circadian rhythms point us toward a more morning-lark-type state. Study author Satoshi Kanazawa says that humans have the “unique ability, consciously and cognitively, to override their internal biological clock and its rhythmic outputs.”

So in other words, night owls are sooo smart that they’re even outsmarting their own bodies. Stay up late tonight, you might learn something.

— Josh Segal

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