Are night owls more intelligent than early birds?

Loved it when I came across research indicating that might be the case. Am tired of hearing about the benefits of getting up at the crack of dawn. It’s a habit we have inherited from traditional societies when mankind rose with the sun and went to bed at sunset. But does it really suit the world we live in today?

are nigth owls more intelligent than early birds

Would US presidents age as much as they do if they didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn like in a traditional society? Would it benefit mankind to adapt office hours that reflect the world we live in today instead of doing things the way they have always been done?

One study carried out by The University of Liege looking at how our brains are able to focus attention throughout the day found differences in rhythm between “morning” and “evening” people. Their conclusion is that early risers get tired earlier and are hence less productive.

Kanzawa claims more intelligent children go to bed later as adults

And according to another study by Satoshi Kanazawa,”Why Night Owls are more intelligent than morning larks” evening people are of higher intelligence than morning people. He claims that analysis of a large representative sample of young Americans show that more intelligent children grow up to be more nocturnal as adults than less intelligent children.

Both studies believe that evening people usually get more work done and resist the pressure to sleep better than the larks.

Do morning people have the upper hand in business?

Considering such conclusions I can’t help wondering why is it considered that when it comes to being successful in business it’s a virtue to be an early riser and that evening people will be less successful?

Honestly doubt the conclusion that evening people are more intelligent. It has nothing to do with intelligence but body rhythm, endurance and energy. For some reasons we are all different in those areas but the fact that evening people seem to be more productive could be of importance to society.

Time to rethink?

From what I understand about 20% of the population of the world are night owls and only 10% are early birds. And most of us, 70%, can handle both. Honestly why are we adapting business hours to suit 10% of the population of the world?

Intelligence enables flexibility

Kanazaka correctly points out that the more intelligent people are the more prone they are to adapt behaviour that is beneficial to the human race – as opposed to doing things the way they have always been done. Initially new behaviour is scorned but then become the norm. Much of what we do today will be considered absurd by future generations.

Flexible hours a sign of change?

More and more businesses have flexible hours above all because many businesspeople are night owls. And we shouldn’t forget that many intelligent people are entrepreneurs. The current recession is also creating an abundance of small businesses, most of them with much more flexible hours than huge corporations.

Will next generation be prepared to get up at dawn?

Another aspect is that younger people are more likely to be night owls and not happy to get up in the morning while pensioners frequently fall into the rhythm of getting up and going to bed with the sun. But they are now retiring and younger people will fill their positions. And they may not be as willing as the previous generation to adapt their body rhythm to the company. They may simply leave and find jobs where they don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn.

So is it time for the business world to wake up and realize that things are changing? Having workers coming in later and working later will, according to the studies, result in increased productivity and eliminate the afternoon fatigue so obvious in all offices.

What’s your opinion? Do you agree with the studies that night owls are more intelligent than early birds? Or do you believe it’s the other way round? Or maybe you agree with me that it’s not about intelligence but other factors? Will more and more businesses implement flexible hours? Would starting later and working later increase productivity? Is it likely that working hours will change? Will night owls have the upper hand in the future?

(Photo: United States Government Work – Flickr)

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137 Responses to “Are night owls more intelligent than early birds?”

  1. Evelyn Says:

    Hi Catarina,

    I agree with you. It is not about intelligence, but has much to do with other factors.

    I don't think that starting work later will increase productivity. All that really depends on the person.

    Take care,

    Evelyn

    My recent post 12 Ways to Avoid Colds this Holiday Season

  2. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me Evelyn.

    However, I would like to see official business hours changed so that we start later. Or at least that the official hours become more flexible. Why is 80% of the world's population going up at the crack of dawn although it suits just a small minority.

    Don't know about you but the majority of successful people I know all over the world are evening people.

  3. Jeannette Paladino Says:

    Catarina — I'm not sure I agree that night owls are smarter. But I'm a closet night owl. When I tell others what time I go to bed and get up they are horrified and I feel embarrassed. So I don't tell most people — it's sort of ridiculous when you think about it. Why is it more acceptable — and worthy — to get up at the crack of dawn and be in bed at 9 or 10 at night? When I worked for a company I was up every morning at 6 and never got used to it. I'm happy I control my own hours now as an entrepreneur. Love that you wrote on this subject!
    My recent post LinkedIn Enables Message Updates on Company Pages

  4. catarinaalexon Says:

    Jeannette I don't believe intelligence has anything to do with it either. Am also a closet night owl and change rythm swiftly when I can.

    Don't understand why we have to do stick to the kind of official hours that suited a society without electricity? Productivity, and health more than anything else, would definitely increase if we started later.

  5. keepupweb Says:

    Hi Catarina,
    Enough with the studies! Everyone is different and there are so many factors that affect us, how is it measured? Did the same study include napping? Personally, I'm affected by my environment. My most productive hours of the day is when I'm alone with no distractions. So, I find myself working in the morning and evenings. During the afternoon, when it gets a bit chaotic around here, no matter how hard I try, I can't get nearly as much done as I'd like. I do agree that companies need to be more flexible if they want to attract talent including offering flexible hours and work from home options.
    My recent post Are Business Women More Receptive to Helping Each Other Online?

  6. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me that flexible hours will be important to attract talent. Honestly believe official hour will change. You can click on the links to the studies and find out more about them.

  7. catarinaalexon Says:

    Tracy glad you like my aricle and thinking.

    Of course it has nothing to do with intelligence, as I wrote by the way. But hours should be more flexible since the majority of us don't like the kind of working hours you have:-)

  8. catarinaalexon Says:

    Gloria, it's not my findings. You can click on the links to the research to know more. If it's true that morning people are more introvert it's consistent with the findings of one of the surveys that more business people are night owls.

  9. Catherine Lockey Says:

    As a lifelong night owl with what would be called a circadian rhythm difference, I was thrilled to see you write about this Catarina. Please do me a favor and email me the studies you are referring to as this topic is always of interest to me. I read a study (wish I had the url) which claimed night owls are more creative than early birds. I come from a family of great intelligence and all of them have odd sleep issues: There may very well be a link between intellect and night owls. There is also a direct link between body temperature and circadian rhythm – interestingly my daughter and I both have a normal body temperature of 97 degrees – both of us night owls. In addition, it makes sense night owls tend to own their own businesses since they, just like everyone else, need a good night's sleep to survive. Traditional hours deprive them of sleep and ultimately make them sick. I'll go to the occasional 8:00 a.m meeting and must then function on 4 or 5 hours of sleep for the rest of the day. Like a lot of night owls, I'm incapable of napping – unfortunately. I was a teacher when I was younger and every single work day I felt like I had jet lag and was sick with a cold or flu about 75% of the time.
    My recent post Content Marketing: What it is and Why it Works

  10. Slim Says:

    "Early to Bed and Early to Rise does not make you Ben Franklin." –Slim Fairview

    When I began working on my novel, I found out that I did best when I began at 10pm and did by best work between 10pm and 2am.

    If getting "up and at 'em" was such a screamin' deal, why does the Stock Exchange wait until 9:30 to ring the opening bell?

    Slim
    My recent post USPS 1st Class Incompetence

  11. Roberta Budvietas Says:

    I agree with Sherryl and with staff have always tried to be flexible for their schedule. But if you looked at our family – the night owl is definitely smarter but the early bird gets more done. What does that say?

    I know business people who work to meet their client’s needs and that is the ONLY time that matters not the business owner

  12. Susan Oakes Says:

    Okay that must mean I am not that intelligent. I got into the habit of waking early when I was a kid and when working in the corporate world I had to get up early. I still do and find I am sharper in the morning plus I can exercise with the morning sun.

    That said be a night owl if I want to and I do agree about different working hours. When we had the Olympics to avoid the city traffic we could choose either an early morning start and early finish or a late start. I think most of us were more productive during those 2 weeks.
    My recent post Are Your Strategies For Growth Hiding?

  13. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you are a night owl like me. Actually because of office hours I'm, like Jeannette put it "a closet night owl". Buty can handle both. Just click on the links in the article and you will get to the studies.

  14. catarinaalexon Says:

    So Slim, you are also a night owl. Good point about the Stock Exchange, but the markets actually work 24/7.

  15. catarinaalexon Says:

    Interesting point about your family Roberta. Any idea why the early birds get more done? Must depend on what they do?

  16. catarinaalexon Says:

    Susan, I'm sure it has nothing to do with intelligence but other factors. Good point about people being more productive when they can chose to work early or late.

  17. GuyW Says:

    I don't believe it has anything to do with intelligence – it's simply about one's own circadian rhythm, modified to an extent by cultural issues. Personally, I’m an early bird (growing up on a farm and being at boarding school in Zimbabwe ensured that), and am almost always awake before 5, but ready for bed by 10. In spite of this apparent lack of ability to stay up late, I manage to get a good bit of work done during the day: in fact I find being an early bird a great advantage as I can get a lot done before things get really busy.

    On the cultural side – as you will know, life in the Middle East tends to start later in the day and go on later at night. In Southern Africa, by contrast, work tends to start at 8 o’clock (as opposed to 9 in most of Europe) and finish at 5.

    Incidentally, there’s also a good body of research to show that one’s ability to make good decisions diminishes over the day – the more decisions you make in the day, and the later it gets, the worse your decisions are likely to be. This is to do with diminishing glucose levels, etc.

    Perhaps there is a similar factor at work with the circadian rhythm – as naturally early birds don’t perform well late at night, while natural owls don’t perform well early in the day…

  18. catarinaalexon Says:

    Guy, as I wrote, I don't believe it has anything to do with intelligence either. Presumably you agree that flexible hours is a good idea in order to accomodate night owls as well?

  19. Rob Burns Says:

    Thanks Caterina, great post!

    I am with you on the 70%, adaptation! Somedays, I often get up as early as 4:30 am and others after 6:00 am, whatever my schedule requires. If I have a presentation or meeting in the afternoon, I will sleep in a bit more and get a good night’s sleep the evening prior. There are days that I work past 10:00 pm in the evening, in fact there are times when I feel my best hours are in the am and then again later in the evening. I do know for certain that if I do not get my seven hours of sleep, on average, my sharpness will deteriorate no matter what time it is the next day and if I can catch up on some sleep with eight hours that is a bonus.

  20. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you like my article Rob.

  21. Steven Wray Says:

    I find that my productivity and desire to get up or stay in bed varies according to the seasons and my location. It may also vary with age. As a student I did my best work in the middle of the night. As a family man with a regular job that is not so easy.
    Over time work conditions will become more flexible especially now you can remain in touch with work wherever and whenever you want. I think the piece of research Catarina refers to will have less relevance and value in coming years and the way we work will change markedly.

  22. Dominique Paccaly Says:

    Two cent remarks:
    Is being smarter means being more productive?
    Is being smarter is to free your time to be able to rest?

  23. Joe C Says:

    I'm really lucky. I've always worked in businesses that had flexible hours. I think for knowledge work it's a necessity.

    Now that I'm trying to strike out on my own I'm trying to track when I'm most effective at doing certain tasks.
    My recent post Twitter Workflow Frequently Asked Questions

  24. Angela C. Says:

    I have never heard of a correlation between being a night or morning person and how inteligent someone is. I have met people on both ends of the spectrum. I totally agree that work hours should be more flexible based on each individual. I think as long as people are in the office to cover 8-5 or so (because that's when many other businesses are open), if people float in and out it shouldn't be a problem. I wish more companies subscribed to that mentality.
    My recent post Day 21 – Bits and pieces that POP

  25. mike10613 Says:

    I used to be a night owl, now I'm smart enough to know when to get an early night! I'm also smart enough to know when to get up early. When daylight saving ends at the end of this month, I'll have a lie in! :)

  26. catarinaalexon Says:

    Seems we have more or less the same experience Steven. Glad we agree that working hours will be more flexible in the future.

  27. catarinaalexon Says:

    Your choice Dominique.

  28. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good points Joe.

  29. catarinaalexon Says:

    Kanazawa found that correlation Angela. Personally, as you know, I don't think it has anything to do with intelligence. When you work in an office depends on what you do, don't you think Angela. If a person works with the other side of the world working hours become completely different. The important thing is to be as productive as possible.

  30. catarinaalexon Says:

    In other words Mike you belong to the 70% that can do both.

  31. Easther Says:

    Hi Catarina,
    I guess I could say I am a night owl, I sleep really late, I tend to work better at night. but I struggle getting up early to go to work. But when I have to get up early, I can without the help of an alarm clock.
    My recent post Blog Engage RSS Syndication – Easy Way To Boost Your Traffic

  32. catarinaalexon Says:

    Seems we are similar Easther.

  33. catarinaalexon Says:

    Alan, I'm sure you agree with me that flexible hours is important and would like more companies to use such systems.

  34. Jaime Says:

    Thanks for the article; I enjoyed reading it. Personally, I'm a night owl so much so that my own hubby sometimes couldn't figure out how I managed to handle certain days. Let's just say that it is important to be able to adapt to different situations. I honestly believe that flexibility is necessary in our days. I have always wondered if it matters if we work early or later in the day as long as the job is done. As for myself, I find that I'm more result oriented when I work late but I have always managed to adapt myself as according to needs and environment.

  35. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you like my article Jaime. Agree with the points you are making.

  36. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me Joseph.

  37. Vernessa Taylor Says:

    Hi Caterina,

    Interesting studies you've unearthed. I'd love to read them when time permits. I've never seen a study that correlates intelligence with body rhythm and preferred work time. Knowing many, many intelligent people (like those weighing in here on your article), I think the studies would have to have much more empirical data before being taken serious.

    I'm decidedly a night owl. I've always been one but still need 8+ hours of sleep whenever I make it to bed. For certain types of projects, my absolute favorite time to work is to start at 10pm and flow through until about 7am. Of course, being a night owl doesn't jive well with activities that require daytime interaction with clients, colleagues, or businesses that keep traditional hours. So, in that respect, I'm flexible, and being results oriented, I can work day or night.
    My recent post Customer Referral Systems: Automation is Your Secret Key

  38. mike54martin Says:

    Hi there. Interesting post and discussion. I am definitely an early bird but I am not sure that it's much of an advantage in the 'real world". Seems to me that night owls have the most fun.
    Mike

  39. catarinaalexon Says:

    That's a good way of looking at it Mike.:-)

  40. catarinaalexon Says:

    Vernessa, of course it has nothing to do with intelligence, like I wrote, but other factors. Seems, you like me and 70% of mankind can handle both but are a "closet night owl".

    There are links to the studies in my article so you can read more.

  41. catarinaalexon Says:

    Alan I really think we have different body rhythms and that it's not just a question of getting used to something. Some people simply cannot get used to getting up at say, 4 o'clock in the morning and are always tired, no matter how long they do so. You can adapt but there are limits.

  42. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me that's it's nothing to do with intelligence Stacy.

  43. catarinaalexon Says:

    Good points James:-). Love the one about cornfields in Manhattan. Night owl in NY that's a bit tricky when it comes to business hours – or maybe you are an intern at Goldman sleeping in a sleeping bag under your desk after Tokyo has opened?:-)

  44. jackiepurnell Says:

    Hi Catarina

    I find that I seem to rotate through patterns. I love both ends of the spectrum because thats when I find the most peace and quiet and ability to get things done.

    You have to work with your own natural rythyms. What suits one dosen't suit another, I don't think intelligence has anything to do with it.

    My recent post Love Brand or Dud Brand…Which Are You? (pt2)

  45. catarinaalexon Says:

    Seems we agree Jackie.

  46. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you Sterling. We are all different in this respect. Since more and more people will be self employed most likely flexible hours will be the norm in the future, which will increase productivity.

  47. catarinaalexon Says:

    When it comes to body rhythm we are all different. The fact that some successful people are up early doesn't mean that they are morning people. Just that they have adapted to official working hours. Or even that they need very little sleep. Honestly believe more flexible hours will benefit mankind as a whole.

  48. Peggy Says:

    I have to agree with Catarina and Jeannette and others who've posted. Night owls are actually often considered unusual, lazy even. Not true. I've always been a night owl. Some studies have indicated it all depends on what time you were born. Possible?

    Night owls don't often get the opportunity to live by their own rhythms, getting up much too early, but required to do so by the "norm". So, I've spent most of my working life getting up by 6.30, so as to have some time to wake up, then get going to my work. Whenever I can, I go to bed later, get up later, and always feel more refreshed and fuller of energy this way.

  49. philip Says:

    I work 9:30pm – 07:30pm most nights anyway and i find that after a while my body insists it returns to some form of normality despite what what i may do.. mamels are not naturally nocturnal with some exceptions in the species and to try to turn this around may seem exciting at first but who would pick up the tab in health and traffic collision terms from over tired workers or owners?

    It may be possible to re-educate a dog to become a vegetarian but when the chips are down and it gets hungry then it sure wont accept the small carrot in your hand.. it would take off your hand instead and keep the rest of you alive for later.

    There is of course nothing new under the sun and given the lenght if time that Homo Sapiens have been roaming the globe i dare say the notion or indeed demands for night working have been arranged in society at some point when it becomes expedient ro do so and no doubt the idea would always be sexed up and marketed as a new wave social revolution. so if it its really the best way forward in terms of life times habit then why has it never caught on before?

  50. Anne Egros Says:

    Hi Caterina early bird or late owl may not be the issue but the hours and quality of sleep may be. A study was done on 4188 employees at four US corporations who were surveyed about sleep patterns and completed the Work Limitations Questionnaire.
    Sleep disturbances contribute to decreased employee productivity at a high cost to employers.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20042880

  51. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agreee Dev.

  52. DaBora Lovitt Says:

    Medically speaking the human body requires six hours of sleep. Normal activites allows the brain activate on reverse body alertness. True it is considered for todays views as a "night owl."

  53. catarinaalexon Says:

    That's true as far as I'm concerned DaBora. However what hours you sleep is another matter. If you sleep between 02.00 hours and 08.00 hours is fine provided you don't need to get up at say, 06.00 hours. That's why flexible hours is a good idea in order to raise productivity.

  54. Geek Girl Says:

    I think if you try hard enough you can find a study that supports whatever point of view you may have. I think that linking intelligence to whether you are an early riser or a night owl is absurd. Productivity on the other hand may have some merit.
    My recent post Follow Geek Girl USA On Kindle

  55. thelazyslinky Says:

    What about really young children? They are definitely larks! We seem to go from being larks to being owls and then the elderly go back to being larks. Maybe this is only true for one generation but mostly young children are the ones that wake up their parents nowadays.

    Personally I'm an owl BUT with that said I get depressed every winter (S.A.D) due to low light levels and HAVE to wake up early. Other health risks seem to also be associated with not getting enough sunlight so I suppose the traditional past has left its mark.

    Interesting post! Enjoyed reading it!

  56. findingourwaynow Says:

    I tend to agree that we adapt to what is needed to make it work in our circumstances. I'm not sure that equates to higher intelligence but to necessity versus need. When one is not tied to a certain company time clock or schedule, I believe that the body rhyme that works best for the individual begins to surface. When that is allowed to happen, I can't help but believe that the individual is far more productive. Just my thoughts. :-)
    My recent post Taking The Mystery Out Of Wine Tasting: Wine

  57. becc03 Says:

    I have been both a night owl – most of my life – and an early riser (thanks to my son). It would seem I sit in the adaptable group.
    It is interesting, there is a school in Sydney doing new hours (I think starting at 7am and finishing earlier). I wonder if there will be another school willing to do later hours? It would be interesting to see if it makes any difference at all.
    My recent post I laid myself on the line…

  58. catarinaalexon Says:

    As I wrote in the article Cheryl, of course it has nothing to do with intelligence. But according to the research carried out it has:-) It's all about what rhythm suits your body.

  59. catarinaalexon Says:

    Maybe Sophia. There are more owls in this world than larks. Presumably the research has looked at how the majority of us perform best in the years when we are most productive.

  60. catarinaalexon Says:

    Agree with you Susan.

  61. catarinaalexon Says:

    Not only schools but all kinds of companies and institutions all over the world love to start earlier and earlier. All so that people can have more spare time after school/work. But I do believe things will change in that respect because more and more people have to set up their own company. Most likely that will have an impact on when owls, who represent a larger portion of mankind, set their own hours.

  62. thebizparlor Says:

    I do not believe one or the other are more intelligent, however each one of us have a different biological clock and if we are able to understand ours and respect our team's, we might get much better results- not as a group, but individually. Flexible schedules might work better if we can identify the individual trends and allow our team members to work during their most productive time.
    My recent post Social media: are you choosing the right channel?

  63. thebizparlor Says:

    I absolutely respect your point of view and your response to my comment, even not agreeing with it – the definition of "biological clock" is much broader that the one you chose to publish.
    But I really appreciate your point and enjoyed reading your article.

  64. Ms. Blase Says:

    As a night owl, I would love to pat myself on the back and agree with those but I'll take another direction. My son, a teenager that I would count as very intelligent, goes to bed later and later. He seems to have more going on intellectually and is more introspective than the average teen therefore, less concerned with wasting his hours with sleep. I work during the day but am pushing toward self employment so regarding not feeling the "pressure to sleep" or flexibility with hours, I would have to agree but say that this is "drive" oriented.

  65. catarinaalexon Says:

    Absolutely. We all have a different perception of reality. Who's right and who's wrong?:-)

  66. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree "Ms Blase".

  67. mkslagel Says:

    The day that I don't have to get up early for work and can work late into the evening will be the best day of my life. (If I ever see it in my lifetime). I have a hard time waking up in the morning when I don't have anything immediately to do. Even on days that I have to wake up to go to work I have a hard time convincing myself to get out of bed before last minute rushing to get ready. But later that evening, I can lay in my bed well into the wee hours of the night– 4 a.m./5 a.m. and read. These are my best times and my favorite times.
    My recent post Reasons You Need Good Credit Besides Loans

  68. Kelly Wade Says:

    I think there are a number of different factors that play into when people have more energy. I think it would be beneficial to a lot of people (especially the younger generations) to have more flexible working hours, but the status quo says that 9-5 is optimal and if anything were to change it would most likely take a long time.
    My recent post 3 Most Important Aspects to Healthy Living

  69. JeriWB Says:

    I was always more of night owl until I finished graduate school. When I got my first teaching job, I had to become a morning person. Even without being in the classroom anymore, I still wake up close to 6 am every morning, and I don't go to bed until midnight. I do now that I am more creative later in the day, but if I don't work on my novel first thing in the morning, I won't get to it that day. I guess like all things, we adapt to the situation at hand. As a teacher I can say it got old having kids come into class who repeatedly stayed up until 4 am on their computers and cell phones. Not too intelligent, I'd say.
    My recent post On My Mind: How often do you quit reading a book?

  70. JeriWB Says:

    I was always more of night owl until I finished graduate school. When I got my first teaching job, I had to become a morning person. Even without being in the classroom anymore, I still wake up close to 6 am every morning, and I don't go to bed until midnight. I do now that I am more creative later in the day, but if I don't work on my novel first thing in the morning, I won't get to it that day. I guess like all things, we adapt to the situation at hand. As a teacher I can say it got old having kids come into class who repeatedly stayed up until 4 am on their computers and cell phones. Not too intelligent, I'd say.
    My recent post On My Mind: How often do you quit reading a book?

  71. JeriWB Says:

    I was always more of night owl until I finished graduate school. When I got my first teaching job, I had to become a morning person. Even without being in the classroom anymore, I still wake up close to 6 am every morning, and I don't go to bed until midnight. I do now that I am more creative later in the day, but if I don't work on my novel first thing in the morning, I won't get to it that day. I guess like all things, we adapt to the situation at hand. As a teacher I can say it got old having kids come into class who repeatedly stayed up until 4 am on their computers and cell phones. Not too intelligent, I'd say.
    My recent post On My Mind: How often do you quit reading a book?

  72. Dr Prakash Moghe Says:

    Hi Caterina,
    Like all psychological terms, Intelligence is a complex construct. Everyone has her own notion and it also keeps changing with times. I recollect in my childhood, early 1960s putting blanket / wrapping a burnt hand was the norm and touching water was a taboo. Now chilling the burnt part is considered / taught as good.
    Like wise, getting up early or late has ceased to have any meaning Caterina as social networking / out sourcing has made it possible to think of working at hours of will. I am usually up by 5 am in India, it is half day at New Zealand. The problem is with those people who find reasons to grudge, passing the buck to politicians, recession, weather, depression etc. In every time, every kind of person has made success, it depends upon us to which we camp we wish to belong – the users of opportunities or being used by the opportunists

  73. Leora Says:

    I am definitely an early bird. Some of the entrepreneurial types I knew years ago were night owls. My kids try to change me, but they are just much more awake than I am at 9 pm. I will just learn to live with who I am! I'm no Thomas Alva Edison, who got by on little sleep. I get a ton done early in the morning.

  74. catarinaalexon Says:

    Join the. club MK. That's why setting our own hours are so important. We get really productive and the results are great

  75. catarinaalexon Says:

    Jeri, don't you think you are part of the 70% of mankind that can adapt to either the hours of a morning person or an evening person

  76. catarinaalexon Says:

    Leora you are lucky to be an early bird since society evolves around getting up early in the morning.

  77. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you for taking the time to giving us your opinion, Prakash.

  78. catarinaalexon Says:

    Kelly in many countries people start working at 8 in the morning. And in some at 10. And don't forget about all business owners that adapt to their bodies rhythm and get up at 8 instead of 6. It makes a huge difference. For morning people sleeping late is not an option since they get best results in the morning.

  79. catarinaalexon Says:

    Well Christian, maybe you have taken it a step too far? Am an evening person but I definitely could not live the way you do.

  80. A.K.Andrew Says:

    I think it's as much to do with the rhythms we get into in our lives than anything else. Young people have always preferred to stay up late than get up early irregardless of generation. Thank goodness flexitime is more prevalent now tho which is much more suited to modern living. Thanks for post Catarina.
    My recent post Reading Fever

  81. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree AK. However, for those of us who are evening people, we are always tired if we have to get up early. We will not, like most pensioners, wake up early:-)

  82. Lubna Says:

    I tend to sleep at around 2 or 3 am and wake up anytime between 8.30 to 9.30 am, depending on how early my first meeting is and how 'early' I've gone to bed. I do need six hours of sleep. In fact one when I was a student and exams were slated at 8am, I actually had to reoriented my sleeping habits. I think my deepest sleep is around 7 am.
    This post sure has me thinking. I am a night owl and I haven't seen the sun rise in years.

  83. thibaut Says:

    Could it be that night owls are better thinkers and early birds are better executers.
    You need both legs to run. So make sure you have both in your teams / businesses!

  84. catarinaalexon Says:

    Sounds a bit like me Lubna. Prefer to never have to get up before 8 a.m. But needless to say, sometimes that can't be avoided.

  85. catarinaalexon Says:

    If that's the case thibaut, I would hate to chose between being an early bird or a night owl:-)

  86. Kerry Thompson Says:

    There are seven in our family. I am up at 4:30 am and I start to get cranky at 10:30. My wife gets up about 10:00 AM my son and daughter are night owls and enjoy working the (afternoon shift) at Walt Disney World. The rest of the Kids have adapted to the jobs that they perform. Once the passion on an idea, project or task is at full tilt, the 24 hour clock comes into play. Yes Japanese are big on productivity and efficiency but what kind? There are just as many kinds of productivity as there are careers. The automotive global industry requires me to be alert around the clock when Japan, India or Germany calls I must be alert and productive. What time will we be productive and fruitful in the future? Depends on the need. The global clock is in play and more important than ever before. As an engineer I get inspiration 24 hrs a day.

  87. catarinaalexon Says:

    True, Kerry. However, your natural body clock has an impact on what your ideal hours are. That however doesn't mean you cannot be productive at hours that don't suit your body, you are just less productive. But less productive compared to what?

  88. Jody Kristina Says:

    Great article, I am a night owl. I've been working nights for about 6 years. I've always said I function better in the evening hours, I just feel my brain is more awake and well-rested. I am way more prone to confusion in the early mornings. Haha. Nice to see some articles supporting that. :)
    My recent post Is technology rupturing society?

  89. catarinaalexon Says:

    Join the club, Jody Kristina.

  90. blogiart22 Says:

    Tell the truth I totally agree that night owls are more intelligent. There is some physiological study that tells about the brain activity that boosts only in the middle of the day. And when you use this moment in a right way for yourself you get more advantages. I'm absolutely owl))) In life and by the spirit) thanks for the interesting post!

  91. catarinaalexon Says:

    My pleasure. Interesting about the physiological study you mention.

  92. Dave McAdams Says:

    I would consider this study invalid due to the fact that the majority of teenagers would be considered night owls. Because more teens belong to that group, it is obviously more likely that an intelligent teenager will be a night owl than an early bird. There are likely many night owls who are unsuccessful and of low intelligence. I would have to assume that intelligence does not directly relate to sleep habits because they CAN be changed over one's lifetime. Sleep habits are simply a preference, and adapting to the night owl sleep schedule will not make you more intelligent.

  93. catarinaalexon Says:

    OK Dave, we have taken note that you consider the two studies invalid. Have you contacted the University of Liege and Satoshi Kanazawa to let them know your opinion. Am sure they would be intrested in hearing your points of view.

  94. Leora Says:

    I'm an early morning person. My children are definitely night owls. My husband can do both. It's just our personal rhythms. Our successes seem more related to whether we use that wide awake time well. I hope more businesses will value flexibility – I do see this for some.
    My recent post New Website: Coming Soon Page?

  95. catarinaalexon Says:

    Agree with you completely that it's about working when we perform best, Leora. But thy doing that if you work in government in D.C. You have to get up at the crack of dawn even if you are an evening person. Does that really make them draw the best conclusions and how much would results improve if they had flexible hours?:-)

  96. jacquiegum Says:

    These studies always crack me up Catarina! There's enough debate about what constitutes intelligence, much less whether night owls possess more of it! When I ran a restaurant/bar I was a night owl because I had to be. When I entered the corporate world I became an early bird because I had to adapt. Now I am up every day at 5:00AM without an alarm and I find my most productive times are in the morning because I have fewer interruptions. Maybe the answer lies in how you make the best use of your time rather than when that time is. I would like to see companies be more flexible. It makes sense to exploit an employee's circadian rhythms!

  97. catarinaalexon Says:

    You definitely are among the 70 % of the world's popuation who can can handle both, Jacqueline. It's definitely not about intelligence but about how to get best results. Believe me, you would not have written what you wrote if you were an evening person:-) Can't help concluding that you would be suitable for working in government in D.C. Getting up around 04.00 hours would be fine with you.

  98. lenie5860 Says:

    Hi Catarina – there always seem to be studies going on – tomorrow the findings will be completely opposite. I have never been a night owl, even when young and now that I’m older, getting up at 5 or 6 in the morning is the norm. It is also when I am most productive and I prioritize accordingly. It may be true that I get tired earlier and am often in bed by 9pm but that doesn’t mean a lot since I usually have accomplished what I needed to do. I think business would be wise to take advantage of employee’s most productive time, whenever that is.

  99. catarinaalexon Says:

    Always enjoy reading comments to this article, Lenie. People are critical if they are morning persons and love it if they are night owls. It's not about intelligence but working when your performance is at its peak. Simple as that. Believe me individuals, companies and society as a whole lose out by forcing people to work hours that don't suit them.

  100. Beth Niebuhr Says:

    I have strong opinions about this. In both of my marriages, I’ve been a lark (early bird) and my husbands owls (late birds). Furthermore, my two children are also one of each. When my kids were little, I tried to help them keep similar schedules and a friend of mine tried to change the lark when the kids stayed with her for a week. Result? hysterical child. I believe it is inborn and really hard to change. I haven’t noticed a difference in intelligence.

  101. catarinaalexon Says:

    Agree with you completely, Beth. Of course it has nothing to do with intelligence. But every time I publish this article I love how morning people point that out:-) To believe body rythm has anything to do with intelligence is ludicrous.

  102. patweber Says:

    Wait Catarina. Aren't more or most teenagers night owls? I totally remember that being the case for my son when he was one, and for that matter, myself when I was one. But I love studies because they really do make us question things and think differently.

    When my husband and I were karaoke business owners, we were in our 40s and up until 4am sometimes! But our day jobs were typical 9 to 5 business hours. We're both high achievers no matter what our hours.

    You pointed out this in the studies: Intelligence enables flexibility. So maybe, if we are intelligent we can flex to business hours, or decide the heck with it.

    Love this post!
    My recent post Want to Double Your Resolution and Habit Success?

  103. catarinaalexon Says:

    Lucky you, Pat. Both you and your husband are part of the 70% of humanity that can handle both. But try being a night owl and work in government in D.C. Getting up around 4 in the morning will definitely result in evening people performing badly. Considering that 20% of humanity are night owls I can't help wondering how that has impacted the US government?:-) The worst case scenario is probably a POTUS that's an evening person. His bad performance will have a negative impact on the world:-)

  104. Jeannette Paladino Says:

    Catarina — I'm definitely a night owl. When I worked in the corporate world I had to adapt to getting up at 6 in the morning but it isn't my natural rhythm. Now I work late and sleep late. When I mention that to "larks" they are askance and imply that something must be wrong with me. Why do larks feel so superior when they can't keep their eyes open after 10 o'clock at night!
    My recent post Life After Fifty and the “Brand” New You

  105. Doreen Pendgracs Says:

    Superb post, Catarina, and I'm glad to see you're getting a good reaction to it.

    I am neither a night owl, not an early bird. I do my best and most creative work between 11 am and 5 pm. I never make appointments for before 10 am, as I know I just won't be fully there mentally.

    I don't think either camp is more intelligent than the other. I think we all have a different biorhythm that we should follow, and the intelligent ones, find a job or flexible work situation that enables them to work when they are most productive. Thank goodness for progress!
    My recent post the importance of trust

  106. Arleen Says:

    I am a night owl. I just function better at night. I seem to get a second wind at 8:00 PM and then I am ready to face the night. At night is when I come up with ideas that do not come to me during the day. Of course this also is the reason I have insomnia. Getting up early in the morning is a chore for me. I could never have a 9:00-5:00 job. Having my own business allows me to work within my parameters of working and thinking at night.
    My recent post “Don’t Satisfy the Customer Surprise ‘Em” Lessons from Dr. Kriegel

  107. Donna Janke Says:

    Such an intriguing title for this post. I know everyone has their own best zone for working, but I'm not sure I buy into night owls being more intelligent. More productive perhaps – depending on the environment. If one's natural rhythms have you working at times when you're likely to be less distracted or interrupted by others, you will be more productive. I used to be a morning person, but find that is changing as I get older and no longer have to meet someone else's schedule. This post made me think of studies and papers that have come out about teenagers, who like to stay up late and sleep late. Suggestions are that we should change school hours to be later for teens. But that would be difficult for the teachers and for school bus schedules.

  108. emfoodcoach Says:

    My husband would love this! He is one of these people that always stays up late and then is exhausted the next day. I guess I am kind of flexible. I have had all types of schedules as an adult from waking up at 3am to going to bed at 3 am. This is due to my years as an actress. From all these schedules, I believe I am happiest going to bed at midnight and waking up at 8am. Currently I go to bed at 10pm and wake up around 6am. I seriously feel like a little kid resisting my bed time every night. It just doesn’t feel natural to me to fall asleep that early. Come morning though, I wake up full of energy and feel alert all day. So I guess this schedule allows me to feel well rested. The bedtime will always feel unnatural.

  109. stimulating52 Says:

    I am a night owl. I am far more productive working in the middle of the night than during the day/early evening when my children are up. I am still able to wake early in the morning. I generally have five hours sleep a night – need at least six and am working on this!

  110. catarinaalexon Says:

    Seems we are two of a kind, Jeannette.

  111. catarinaalexon Says:

    Agree with you, Doreen. Also avoid early meetings. The worst are breakfast meetings that I have never attended anywhere in the world. Recently was asked by a business association to give a speech at 7.30 in the morning. Declined because it will not be a great speech.:-)

  112. cheryltherrien Says:

    This post again makes me smile. Body rhythms and intelligence have nothing to do with each other. I do agree that studies make you take a closer look at things from a different perspective.
    My recent post Where in the World is Geek Grandma?

  113. catarinaalexon Says:

    Of course it has nothing to do with intelligence, Cheryl. It's really amusing how every time I publish this article morning people feel the need to point that out. You have to be really stupid to believe it has. But the headline really increase readership A LOT.

  114. catarinaalexon Says:

    Personally need six hours as well.

  115. catarinaalexon Says:

    Another night owl, Arleen. Personally don't have insomnia because of it but in the morning I'm a waste of time. Have tried since I was a kid but getting up early simply doesn't suit me.

  116. catarinaalexon Says:

    Donna, the reason behind the headline is simply to provoke and hence attract readers. And it works. If anyone believes intelligence has anything to do with if you are a morning of evening person they probably are not very intelligent:-)

  117. catarinaalexon Says:

    Also prefer to get to bed at midnight and sleep to eight in the morning, Erica. Am flexible but absolutely need six hours of sleep in order to perform at my best.

  118. Ken Dowell Says:

    After reading this Katerina I'm going to hangout in bed all morning tomorrow. And let's do away with the pre-office hours breakfast meeting. Always hated those.

  119. Meredith Says:

    Finally a study that supports my night owl habits! I don’t believe it has much to do with intelligence, but it may have something to do with having uninterrupted time to think your thoughts and get things done. I know once my kids go to bed, I’m suddenly more creative and productive. Perhaps if we switched to later office hours, people would suddenly be more productive in the morning before they have to deal with everyone else?

  120. catarinaalexon Says:

    I NEVER attended breakfast meetings, Ken. It's a lamentable American invention:-)

  121. catarinaalexon Says:

    Of course it has nothing to do with intelligence, Meredith. It's simply that we have different body rhythms. Have you always been a night owl lor just became one when you got kids?

  122. Sue Hines Says:

    I love this! Being one who can do late or early – I am glad I can switch it up and so be able to benefit from the extra brainpower!
    My recent post What You Need Right Now

  123. pgc4950 Says:

    Researcher (and believe me I use the term VERY loosely) Satoshi Kanazawa is the author of other sensationally based non-scientific studies. In one of his earliest papers, he attempted to show that the Asian culture inhibited creativity. But wait it gets better. In another study, he concluded Africans are predisposed to stupidity And his definitive example of “I get paid for being a quack” was his claim that black women were “objectively” less beautiful than other races. As far as this study, (for lack of a better term) I find it hard to accept the results of any study, which discusses IQ that doesn’t even use an IQ test for their findings. Take this study with a grain of salt.

  124. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you like the article, Sue.

  125. catarinaalexon Says:

    Wow, Pamela. The purpose of the headline was to provoke people. And it really works. Readership goes sky high. Seems it provoked you more than anyone ever. Anyone believing that intelligence has anyting to do with the matter should have their head examined. Loved writing this article when HBR wrote about the research that was carried out in Liege, which you seem to have ignored. Kanazawa is just another study I found when researching. How could you believe that I a) believe intelligence has anything to do with if you are an evening or morning person b) firmly believe the results of studies? A horrendous example that researchers claimed to have proven was that all members of one religion had an unusual gene in common. They were hence not a religion but a people.

  126. pgc4950 Says:

    Catarina, I didn't mean to imply that you agree with these findings. I realized the Liege study was a separate study. I didn't compare the two because there wasn't anything to compare; like apples to oranges. Yes, they are both studies, but completely different.
    The Liege study looked at brain activity in regard to sustained focus and attention. The correlation between time, duration of sleep and brain patterns and their effect on attention. It wasn't looking at intelligence at all.
    I loved that you created this post, are you kidding? You're open minded and a spirited thinker. Using your blog as a stage for world events, not posting from a bubble of your own belief system, is a testimony to self-efficacy. I'm really not perturbed by this at all. I'm a psychologist I love commenting on individual differences; I'm not attached to it. Your posts always make me think, that's terrific.

  127. susan cooper Says:

    I think that we simply adapt to our circumstances and do what is necessary at the time to make due. Think it's more about necessity versus need, not about intelligence. If you are not tied to a corporate job/clock and can go by your own body rhythms, I feel I'm more productive. But that's just me.

    My recent post Irish Blessing: #Poem

  128. catarinaalexon Says:

    It has nothing to do with intelligence, Susan. But the headline really provokes and generate a lot of readers. We all have different body rhythms and it's horrendous in the corporate world when we are night owls. Am, like you, much more productive now that I don't have to get up early.

  129. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad we agree. By the way, Harvard Business Review implied that the Liege study suggested that evening people are more intelligent. The link I attached is just a short synopsis. But I still don't believe intelligence has anything to do with our body rhythms. On the other hand, if all human beings were able to work in accordance with when they are most productive society as a whole would benefit enormously by" intelligence" surging:-) As you know, if you work in government in D.C. you have no choice but to get up around 4 o'clock in the morning. Imagine how that impacts night owls ability to be "intelligent". Am certain that they make mistakes because of being forced to work hours that don't suit them.

  130. Kire Says:

    Used to be “You can sleep when you’re dead” then it was power napping in the afternoon. The end result is we are creatures of habit and work best when we work best.

  131. pgc4950 Says:

    I understand how Harvard Business interpreted the data as it applies to the business world they’re using the word, intelligence in terms of being focused and sharp. The University Of Liege is a true scientific study. And the methodology is first rate. Another reason Satoshi’s work isn’t even in the same ballpark.
    Yes, I agree with you. We are too focused on defining universal norms and standards for sleeping, eating, working and educating. We need to broaden our focus on individual working styles and preferences. Great conversation, thank you.

  132. andleebakhlaqkhan Says:

    Hello Catarina
    I doubt about this theory as we always listen and even feel that when we get up early in morning we are fresh and we have a long day to complete out tasks. As the day proceed our performance level decreases. This also change from person to person. I feel that there is no hard and fast rule about it. At times people who wake up early are intelligent and sometime night owls. As you said the intelligence is a not related to getup and sleeping time there are many more factors are involved too.

    But if I consider this theory according to my belief then in our religions we are asked to wake up early and enjoy the benefits of a long day and sleep late. So A person who is morning Lark and a night owl can be intelligent but if adopts one … not sure, if true.

  133. catarinaalexon Says:

    Thank you for giving us your points of view, Andleeb. If you are a morning of everning person has nothing to do with intelligence or religion. It's genetic and not much we can do about it:-)

  134. William Rusho Says:

    I wonder about this concept of night owls and early birds, is not a result of our evolution. Imagine our early ancestors, those pseudo humans who first began to have abstract thought. During the day they had to forage for food, and fight for their existence. I was not until night, that they had time to think. Maybe being a night owl is just a historical memory of those long past days.

  135. catarinaalexon Says:

    Maybe, William. But don't forget that in the beginning mankind woke up at sunrise and went to bed at sunset. After working during the day light hours I'm not sure they had much energy to think in the evening. In the beginning they most likely didn't even have fire to be able to see when it was dark.

  136. yearwoodcom Says:

    Loved this post. As a night owl I'm always dismayed by the belief that getting to work early is a reflection of anything more than sleeping patterns. Living in Ottawa, if I rose and slept with the sun over the winter I'd have more in common with hibernating bears than humans and no doubt my disposition would match. :)

  137. catarinaalexon Says:

    Glad you agree with me, Debra. It goes against logic to force people to work when they don't perform at their best

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