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Science Basically Proved It’s Better to be a Night Owl Than a Morning Person

“Morning people” are always so damn virtuous, with their 5 a.m. spin classes and chirpy rise-and-shine attitudes. Personally, I’d rather not participate in the world before 10 a.m. I’m at my most focused between 9 p.m. and midnight, and mornings are typically a nasty blur of green tea and emails. It’s been on my resolutions list every January to become more of an a.m. person, but in my 26 years of life, I’ve really only managed it on a handful of occasions. Now, there’s new research suggesting I (and you!) should feel better about those night owl ways.

In a new study done by the Higher School of Economics and Oxford University and reported by Science Daily, self-confessed night owls were found to take a more serious approach to tasks requiring their attention in the evening and were more accurate in their responses on a written test taken at night. Meanwhile, early in the day both morning people and night owls had similar results on the test. So basically, folks who prefer the evening perform just as well as their sunrise-loving counterparts in the morning, and far better in the evening. Interesting.

To come up with these results, 26 participants (13 men and 13 women) were kept awake for 18 hours straight, between the hours of 8 a.m. and 2 a.m., and asked to stick to their regular habits. In the morning, they filled out an Attention Network Test (ANT) and some questions to determine whether they are a morning or evening person. Then in the evening, participants were asked to complete a second ANT.

Sleep study
Image via Jasmine Dowling

The researchers did not find any major differences between the results of the ANT test the early birds and night owls completed in the morning, but where things get interesting is in the contrast between two groups exemplified by the evening test. At first, researchers were surprised to see that the morning people actually completed the evening test faster than the night owl group, however were able to deduce why when they began marking the ANT. Turns out that the group of morning people showed less accuracy than their evening-loving counterparts.

Researchers think that the evening people tended to take a more “serious approach” when it came to tasks requiring more time and attention during their favorite nighttime hours. “An interesting fact is that although night owls spent more time finishing than early birds, their accuracy in completing the task was higher,” researcher Andriy Myachykov confirmed.

The real lesson that morning people can take from this research—aside from the fact evening folks are superior, obvs—is that you might want to avoid forcing yourself to tackle tasks on your to-do list late at night, and just wait until morning to get through your work.

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