The Benefits of Being a Late-night Sleeper

Night owls may have unusual hours of sleeping, but they’re not to be belittled. Science has proven these creatures are the more intelligent kind – and have a few more advantages than morning people.

Sleep advocates will tell you to go to bed early, and that's just the right thing to do. However, if your own body clock says that your hours of snoozing goes way past 12 am, you might be a night owl – those nocturnal creatures who are wide-awake, deep into the night without any signs of tiredness. Night owls don't intend to sleep late; it's just that their wake and sleep cycle are not attuned to the standard time, a.k.a. the regular 9-5. If you’re naturally a night owl, you might just be in luck; being a late-night sleeper has benefits, even though you might be feeling drowsy in the morning.

Night owls rank higher in creativity. In 2006, the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan enlisted participants in various age-range and were asked to complete pictures composed only with curved and straight lines. During this activity, morning people achieved an average score, but night-owls showcased the most creativity. Professor Marina Giampetro explains this as a divergence from conventional habits which leads to the development of the person’s non-conventional spirit and the discovery of original solutions.

They may even rank high in intelligence overall. Morning people may be proactive and amiable, but the quiet night owls pack a punch with their high IQ. Satoshi Kanazawa from London School of Economics and Political Science discovered a connection between intelligence and late-night sleep. Students from 80 middle and high schools were asked about their sleep and wake times on weekends and weekdays. While comparing the kids’ sleep schedules, it was shown that that brightest students hit the sack late in the evening, while those with low to average IQs go to bed and wake up in normal times.

They also show better mental strength. According to the study done by the University of Leige in Belgium, night owls display stronger alertness compared to morning people. Both groups, made up of extreme late-sleepers and early risers, were tested for their reaction times in the AM and PM. The tests were conducted about 10 hours after each group's waking time. During the morning test, both groups scored the same, but during the evening, the results show a bigger discrepancy, favouring the late sleepers. Yes, that means you can trust night owls to drive long miles and get you safe at your destination.

Who's weak? Night owls are physically strong too. You might picture them out as always-drowsy people, but a study from the University of Alberta proves otherwise. Testing the leg strength of early risers and late-night sleepers, the study reveals that even though morning people have stable strength throughout the day, night owls show promising strength during the evening. This may be alluded to the increase motor cortex and spinal cord working together in later hours as they peak into their wakeness. Unfortunately, morning people do not experience this combination.

Night owls also have better reasoning. Enlisting 1,000 teens, the University of Madrid held a study that looked into sleeping patterns before giving exams. The results showed that night owls rank high in inductive reasoning, which is related to general intelligence.

Being a late-sleeper might be in your genes. In a study published in Science Daily, a mutation in the genes called CRY1 may be disrupting the body's circadian clock. Those who have this gene mutation may experience a delay in sleeping. According to the author, Alina Patke of the Laboratory of Genetics Rockefeller University, carriers of this gene have longer days and are “playing catch-up for their entire lives.”

Another reason for late-night sleeping? Too much adenosine. It is the hormone that keeps you awake, thanks to the homeostatic sleep process that regulates our desire to hit the bed. The longer you are awake, the more adenosine your body accumulates.

Whether you are inherently a late-night sleeper, or have just recently formed this habit, slumbering deep into the night has its many benefits, both mentally and physically. However, this does not mean you should deprive yourself of your much-needed sleep. Catch up on your naps in the afternoon, or indulge yourself in a straight, long Zzzs during the weekend.

Caris Cruz

Writer at RADICE

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