It turns out being a night owl doesn’t affect productivity

After analyzing the GMA scores of MBA students, researchers found them to be much higher in both men and women that went to bed later and arose later.

This proposition that links nocturnal humans and higher intellect has been recapitulated several times over the years, most recently in 2014 by The University of Chicago and Northwestern University.

After analyzing the GMA scores of MBA students, researchers found them to be much higher in both men and women that went to bed later and arose later.


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“As predicted, GMAT scores were significantly higher among night owls than among early-morning types, regardless of sex. GMAT scores were also significantly higher among men than women, regardless of chronotype.”

The report is unfortunately punctuated with uncertainty. The relationship “high cognitive function”a and late nights share is pretty established but further investigation is needed to correctly determine any explanations.

Nocturnals are not, as a rule, slackers

Ilana Gordon of The Muse, recently offered some interesting insights, predominantly attacking the notion that couples late sleepers with procrastination.

After waking up at 4 AM for work over the course of six months, she determined the whole thing about early risers and productivity to be a little misguided. If the early bird doesn’t have a worm in mind, it’ll likely spend the peak hours of dawn soaring aimlessly.

The popularity of the advice, she explains, is based on very particular kinds of workers; workers with intense demands and time constraints. If you’re not a “high-ranking executive” or a CEO, it might be okay to spend a few more hours with your pillow.

Waking up early can only be truly effective when you have a plan of attack. As Gordon points out: “having more time is not the same as using time effectively. In fact, a surplus of time will more times than not cause us to waste it unproductively.

There is an odd stigma that tracks those that are simply more energized during ungodly hours of the night. But if working until 2 am works best for you, there’s no exigent need to battle your biological clock, if you’re getting sufficient amounts of sleep. Waking up earlier doesn’t grant us magic bonus hours. If you’re doing it the healthy way, you’re just adjusting your sleep pattern.

It’s perfectly fine, and possible, to be more productive at nighttime.

A link long since established

Study Magazine explored the correlation with a detailed analyst of sleep and wake up times according to IQ. The findings revealed that people with IQ’s less than 75 went to bed by 11:30 pm or earlier while those with IQ’s of 125 and above went to bed after 12:30 a.m.

Elite Daily writer Lauren Martin suggests it’s all about reflection:

“Only after dark can we learn, absorb and study the effects of the day. It’s a necessary self-reflection that few humans take the time to make. There’s something to be said about those who fight the urge to sleep and explore that block of uncharted time that so many who always have their eyes closed will never see.”

Just pulling from some of the writers and artists I admire, I motion that an aggravated circadian rhythm indicates bustling intellectual activity.  Van Gogh had a particular occupation with the night.

“Be clearly aware of the stars and infinity on high. Then life seems almost enchanted after all,” he once said. Perhaps two of his most well-known pieces were energized by the poetic vagary of dusk.”

The late Christopher Hitchens, had a famed penchant for long evenings and groggy mornings, finding that burning the candle at both ends often created quite “a lovely light.”


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CW Headley|is a reporter for Ladders and can be reached at cheadley@theladders.com.