Stay up late? It’s probably because you’re so darn smart…

Sometimes you bump into research and say “yeah! that’s me!”
That was my reaction when I bumped into an article in Psychology Today entitled “Intelligence: the Evolution of Night Owls“.
You can read the entire article for yourself, but here’s a choice quote:
“Because the nocturnal lifestyle allowed by electricity didn’t exist 10,000 years ago, we must now rely on general intelligence to override our early-to-bed instincts. So those with more of it stay up later.”


This is likely to be correlational research, that is, you survey people and ask them for IQ and preferred or typical bed time, then calculate the relationship between smarts and bed time. Smarter people stay up later? Okay, but what might that mean?
The researcher, Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at The London School of Economics and Political Science, obviously argues that it’s because people are smart that they stay up later, but as usual with qualitative research, I can come up with a half-dozen alternative explanations.
But I don’t want to.
That’s right, I usually go to bed after midnight and actually get to sleep around 12.30 or so every night, or later if there’s a distraction of any sort. Therefore, that must be a sign of profound intelligence, right?
But what do you think? Do smarter people go to bed early, as Ben Franklin suggested in his Poor Richard’s Almanac, or are they night owls, as Kanazawa proposes in his research?

5 comments on “Stay up late? It’s probably because you’re so darn smart…

  1. Ha ha, I like it! Though these folks in their 20’s who are getting up at 10-11 am on weekends? Oh, do I miss that! I am up at 6am every day of the week, whether I stay up until 10 or 12 or 1, thanks to my little ones!

  2. My 18-year-old was just a few minutes ago complaining to me that he just can’t fall asleep at night, and can’t help sleeping late in the morning. (I’ve always been the same way.) I forwarded the Psychology Today piece to him. It may be reassuring to know it’s because you’re so smart, but it’s still hard when the rest of the world expects you to be an early riser!
    Thanks for posting this interesting tidbit for us night owls.

  3. IQ and intelligence are quite different. Take my boyfriend for example. He is very smart and remembers dates and information for almost everything, but he can’t problem solve at all! He also won provincial spelling bees in high
    school, but if his car won’t start because he accidentally left it in drive when he turned it off, he’ll panic and won’t know what to do. There are many times I’ve come to his rescue, but he can beat almost anyone at trivia games. IQ is more the ability to figure things out and doesn’t necessarily go hand-in-hand with memory. Take Albert Einstein for example.
    Maybe the connection is that problem solvers are more likely to be thinking at night instead of being able to sleep!? It was worth a try 😉

  4. This is probably why so many of my smart friends who are parents are homeschooling…I have to admit the getting up early in the morning part is one of the hardest parts of having kids in school!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.