Satisfied middle-aged woman lying in bed enjoy early morning

Waking up in bed (© fizkes - stock.adobe.com)

OTTAWA — Highly intelligent people are often portrayed as night owls. The dedicated novelist writing all night until daybreak, for example. While prior studies actually support this notion, finding that night owls typically display more robust verbal intelligence, new research from the University of Ottawa suggests otherwise.

Turns out the early bird really does get the (verbal) worm.

“Once you account for key factors including bedtime and age, we found the opposite to be true, that morning types tend to have superior verbal ability,” says Stuart Fogel, Director of the University of Ottawa Sleep Research Laboratory, in a university release. “This outcome was surprising to us and signals this is much more complicated that anyone thought before.”

This latest research out of Canada provides some much needed insight into how the impact of a person’s daily rhythm and activity levels during both wake and sleep relates to intelligence.

The research team identified participants’ chronotypes (evening or morning tendencies) by monitoring their biological rhythms and daily preferences. An individual’s chronotype is related to when in the day they prefer to pursue or accomplish demanding or important tasks, from intellectual pursuits to exercise.

Typically, younger people tend to be “evening types,” while older individuals and those more regularly entrenched in their daily/nightly activities are more often “morning types.” Ironically, the morning is usually a critical time for young people, especially those still attending school.

“A lot of school start times are not determined by our chronotypes but by parents and work-schedules, so school-aged kids pay the price of that because they are evening types forced to work on a morning type schedule,” Fogel explains. “For example, math and science classes are normally scheduled early in the day because whatever morning tendencies they have will serve them well. But the AM is not when they are at their best due to their evening type tendencies. Ultimately, they are disadvantaged because the type of schedule imposed on them is basically fighting against their biological clock every day.”

This study used volunteers representing a wide variety of age groups. All subjects were rigorously screened to rule out sleep disorders and any other possible confounding factors. Subjects wore a monitoring device to measure their activity levels.

Fogel explains that establishing the strength of a person’s rhythm, which drives intelligence, is key to understanding this study. Study authors point to a person’s age and actual bedtime as important factors. “Our brain really craves regularity and for us to be optimal in our own rhythms is to stick to that schedule and not be constantly trying to catch up,” he concludes.

The study is published in Current Research in Behavioral Sciences.

About John Anderer

Born blue in the face, John has been writing professionally for over a decade and covering the latest scientific research for StudyFinds since 2019. His work has been featured by Business Insider, Eat This Not That!, MSN, Ladders, and Yahoo!

Studies and abstracts can be confusing and awkwardly worded. He prides himself on making such content easy to read, understand, and apply to one’s everyday life.

Our Editorial Process

StudyFinds publishes digestible, agenda-free, transparent research summaries that are intended to inform the reader as well as stir civil, educated debate. We do not agree nor disagree with any of the studies we post, rather, we encourage our readers to debate the veracity of the findings themselves. All articles published on StudyFinds are vetted by our editors prior to publication and include links back to the source or corresponding journal article, if possible.

Our Editorial Team

Steve Fink

Editor-in-Chief

Chris Melore

Editor

Sophia Naughton

Associate Editor

17 Comments

  1. Errk says:

    What in the world. Verbal ability is just a part of overall intelligence. The author was using a big word they did not know the meaning of -debunked. This research doesn’t debunk anything.

  2. Harvey says:

    I’m with Errk. Hogwash!

  3. Johnny Oldfield says:

    I am assuming they mean people who voluntarily awake early. I awake at 5:20 am 5 days a week but not by choice because of my job and I am as dumb as dirt until about noon and even then Im still struggling.

    Peace

  4. john doe says:

    Pal, to draw this kind of conclusion, you must be one heck of a night owl.

  5. Mensa Night Owl says:

    Nine types of intelligence:
    Logical-mathematical intelligence. …
    Linguistic intelligence. …
    Spatial Intelligence. …
    Musical Intelligence. …
    Bodily-kinesthetic Intelligence. …
    Intrapersonal Intelligence. …
    Interpersonal Intelligence. …
    Naturalistic intelligence
    and
    Critical Thinking skill intelligence, i.e. the kind used to interpret study data and draw a plausible logical conclusion.

    I’m going to guess I might know which one the author lacks much ability in…..

    1. Bill says:

      Mensa night owl, that was pretty cool. I dig it.

  6. Tom Collinz says:

    I was reading this study and then my neighbor came and we read it together. He said that this study changed his life and touched his heart. I then went and rented a projector in a big field and my entire town read it and it changed their lives too. We all are so grateful.
    Thank You for this study….

    1. Scott :Smith says:

      Lol

  7. Phoebe says:

    People believe what they want to believe. Im betting those who agree are early risers and those who disagree are late risers.

    1. Dr Ady Tzidon says:

      To the sameself tune and wordsn

  8. Erik Szpyra says:

    Did these researchers oversleep?

  9. Sean McGuire says:

    This is a load of bs considering some of the greatest minds in history were night owls. How does this bozo explain that.

  10. Gary says:

    Would hate to be a morning person, knowing when you wake up that’s the best you would feel all day!

  11. Aaron says:

    Most ppls schedules aren’t voluntary from 18-65!

  12. Jillian Goldberg says:

    There were 61 subjects in this study. Anyone who has taken college freshman level basic statistics knows this study was not valid. Beware what you read on the Internet.
    How exceptionally poor.

  13. Soylentgreentea says:

    This study debunks another study, and soon another study will debunk this one.

  14. The Wiki Inc says:

    Sorry, I lied, I firmly believe that the earth is round…or round. But let me tell you, when I was in high school, I had no idea what it was. I found the horizon fascinating and everything I experienced confirmed the spherical nature of the earth.