People Who Sleep Late Tend to Have a Higher IQ


When I was trying to get all my pieces together for an exhibit I was going to be a part of, I would usually lay out all my paints and brushes down on the dining table at around 8 in the evening and would finish at around 3 in the morning. I don’t feel the urge to paint in the morning, (whether or not I’ve had any sleep the previous night) or even when I’m writing or doing any of my requirements for school. I tend to do these things at night because I feel slightly disoriented when daybreak arrives.

For years, I was dubbed a night owl. I really didn’t think much of it until I encountered a very interesting study by Satoshi Kanzawa, a psychologist at the London School of Economics and Political Science.

In a survey of Americans in their twenties, Kanazawa showed that those with an IQ over 125 tended to go to bed around 12:30 a.m. and wake up around 8:00 a.m. on weekdays, and to go to bed around 1:45 a.m. and wake up around 11:00 a.m. on weekends.

Those of normal intelligence tended to sleep from 12:00 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. on weekdays and from 1:15 a.m. to 10:15 a.m. on weekends. Those of below normal intelligence tended to sleep from 11:45 a.m. to 7:20 a.m. on weekdays and from 12:35 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. on weekends. As you can see, that’s a pretty big difference.

Now, the study doesn’t exactly prove that being a night owl makes you more intelligent or that all intelligent people stay up late and sleep in late. There are plenty of other factors here. Studies show, for example, that more intelligent people, women particularly, tend to have children later and have fewer children, which allows them to sleep in later than their peers. In addition, the types of jobs people tend to hold because of their intelligence level is another factor to consider.

The research is backed by another study that claims that the characteristic that people who tend to stay up later is an advancement that marks out the more intelligent individuals while those with lower IQ’s tend to restrict their activities primarily to daytime. It is said that it is an evolutionary novel preference made by people with a higher level of cognitive complexity.

Sleep preferences are at least 50% genetic, and changing your sleep patterns is not as easy as it sounds (especially when the habit has been around for centuries!) It was concluded this way since our ancestors found it senseless to stay up later than sundown. The technology at that time would not allow them the luxury of such thing and it’s something that has been passed down for eons despite the world’s modernization.

However it is said that “smarter” humans tended to adapt more quickly to changing conditions and they are more likely to adopt habits that don’t really makes sense (at least to our ancestors). Intelligent people had overridden those instinctual habits of sleeping early, and they tended to stay up later than their peers.

But, of course, greater intelligence has its downsides as well. For instance, getting small amounts of sleep is not healthy for the body. Night owls, in Kanazawa’s study, tended to be prone to sickness such as heart failure and depression. They can also be less reliable, more emotionally unstable, and more likely to have problems with addiction and eating disorders, according to a 2008 study by psychologist Marina Giamnietro. They are also likely to drink alcohol and smoke says Dutch psychiatrist Walter van den Broek at his Dr. Shock blog.

Early risers tend to me more conscientious, persistent and apt to cooperate, says van den Broek. They also cope better with academic requirements and receive better grades. And when you think about it, there are no sayings about late birds getting some sort of better tasting worms.

What do you guys think? Do us night owls get the better advantage or does the morning larks still get the better edge on getting better ‘worms’? What are the other advantages to being a night owl? A morning lark? I would love to hear from you!



Night owls vs. morning people: Who’s smarter? (2010, September 11). Retrieved from

Edited by: Zoe

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