Does being nocturnal make you smarter?

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Are night owls smarter and more capable than early birds? Some researchers seem to think so...

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Find out why night owls might be smarter!

Getting your child to go to bed is already an uphill task but it seems like it is going to become even harder. Research from the University of Liege in Belgium reveals that night owls (people who like to sleep late) tend to be smarter and end up wealthier than people who usually wake up early. Its seems like the classic adage of ‘The early bird catches the worm’ does not seem to apply much to humans.

It is the night owl that catches the worm

In the experiment, different participants slept and woke up at varying times, either early or late, but all of them had the same amount of sleep. Upon waking up, they were required to complete tasks which tested their reactions and alertness, and both groups were similarly adept at the tasks. However, the night owls seemed to have a better endurance than those who woke up early. Dr Philippe Peigneux, the lead of the researchers at the University of Liege in Belgium, said: ‘During the evening session, evening types were less sleepy and tended to perform faster than morning types.’

RELATED: Getting your baby to sleep in longer

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Some older studies also support the notion that sleeping in late might make you smarter

Interestingly, there have been numerous studies conducted in the past which also support the notion that night owls are generally smarter and richer than the early birds. Famous historical figures who were night owls included Charles Darwin and Winston Churchill.

It has also been hypothesised that evolution is responsible for why some people are night owls while others are early birds. Apparently, during the Stone Age, early birds had the responsibility of gathering food while night owls were tasked with standing guard during the night.

Flaw with the study

Night owls would probably use this piece of knowledge to defend their sleeping habits but there is one inherent flaw with using this study in your argument. That is, the results from this research can only be used as a legitimate defence assuming that you can wake up at any time you want. Unfortunately for the majority of us, work or school commitments require us to get up early in the morning. Since sleep deprivation has been known to result in many adverse consequences including a reduced ability to concentrate or stay alert, it is probably best to turn in early when you need to wake up early the next day.

RELATED: How much sleep do babies need?

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Check out tips on getting your child to sleep early

How to get your child to sleep early

Children, particularly teenagers, are notoriously renowned for being night owls. This sleeping habit might have a negative impact on their academic performance as a lack of sleep could cause them to feel more tired and unable to concentrate during lessons.

Here are 3 tips on how to get them to sleep earlier.

  1. Turn off the internet at an earlier timing. Without the internet, your child might become so bored they will just go to bed.
  2. Don’t let your child take afternoon naps or else they will have trouble sleeping later at night.
  3. Get them to adjust their sleeping patterns one small step at a time. Forcing them to adjust to a drastic change in their bed times might be hard for them to accept at first.

Are you a night owl or do you wake up early? We’d love to hear feedback from you! For more on getting up early, watch this video:

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Written by

Sean Foo