As the old saying goes, “the early bird gets the worm.” But is that necessarily true?
While some research has found that early birds tend to have more positive social traits, such as optimism, night owls may have their own distinct advantages as well.
People who say they’re night owls, for instance, tend to be more creative compared with those who say they’re morning people.
The folks at AsapSCIENCE made a handy video breaking down some of the main differences researchers have observed between self-identifying early birds, who typically rise earlier (and have an easier time waking) and sleep earlier, and night owls, who rise later (and have more difficulty waking) and sleep later.
The full video can be found below, but here are some of its main highlights:
Night owls may be at risk of sleep deprivation.
Staying awake well into the night and having to wake up early for work can be problematic for people who identify as night owls. As the AsapSCIENCE team points out, most societal activities occur between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., putting night owls at risk of sleep deprivation.
Because of the negative effects that come with a lack of sleep, AsapSCIENCE reports that college-age night owls tend to have lower overall grades than early bird students and many night owls may experience what’s known as “social jet lag,” or the fatigue that can result from the difference between their sleep and social schedule.
On the other end of the social spectrum, self-identifying early birds tend to be slightly more optimistic and proactive, and some research suggests they may even be less prone to depression and other psychiatric conditions.
There may be a link between depression and being a night owl.
The AsapSCIENCE team also reports that people who say they’re night owls tend to have less white matter — which is critical for helping to carry the nerve impulses our brain cells use to communicate — in certain brain areas.
That finding comes from a small recent study that found that night owls had less white matter in areas of the brain linked with depression. Researchers have said that this could be a result of night owls’ repeated experiences of social jet lag, or it could be caused by another outside factor that they haven’t identified yet.
Night owls may perform better than morning people after 10 hours of being awake.
At the very beginning of a workday, the difference between morning and night people can be obvious; morning people seem to be getting everything done, while night owls are slow to get going. But that difference may not last.
One hour after waking, early birds and night owls perform equally well in reaction time tests, AsapSCIENCE reports. Ten hours after waking, however, night owls perform significantly better than morning people in similar tests.
Check out the full video for more:
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.