The perks of being a night owl

Last updated 10:30 04/07/2014
Night owl

PRODUCTIVITY SKYROCKETS: You’d be surprised at everything you can accomplish in those early hours once the world shuts off.

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Although my eyeballs might currently sport the crimson hue of the middle of a Monte Carlo biscuit, these recent late nights spent watching the World Cup have rekindled my love for staying up until the mid-morning. Have you stayed awake till 4am recently, waiting for a penalty shootout to finally finish? There's so much time to get stuff done!

Just the other night, as I waited for the opportunity to anxiously yell at the Argentine defensive line to "clear the bloody ball already!", I also managed to get some work done, catch up on this week's goofy New York literary subtweet war, play a few rounds of the insanely addictive A Dark Room, and enjoy the odd pleasure of a whole plunger of coffee at 1:55am. And I didn't even have to multitask any of it! You'd be surprised at everything you can accomplish in those early hours once the world shuts off.

Of course, it pays to have a lifestyle that's conducive to sleeping in. For most of us, this may have been more feasible in our younger days, when our daily lives didn't necessarily involve grumpily rolling out of bed at 6.35am to fit in a shower and maybe a run (pfffffft, don't think so) before catching the uncomfortable peak-hour train to work. Remember, those glorious bleary nights of typing up uni assignments or just staying up to watch episodes of Conan? They eventually got swallowed up by the need for weekday job alertness, or even the weekend guilt evoked in that Lucksmiths song about feeling bad that "every lunch was breakfast". Getting to bed on time and waking up early, it seems, is an 'adult thing'. Thankfully, science is here to challenge that assumption.

Night owls are smarter than early risers

Apparently, it's true! In a 2009 paper titled 'Why Night Owls Are More Intelligent', researchers from the London School Of Economics posed the idea that since nocturnal activities were rare amongst our ancestors, those who did stay up late rather than retiring and waking with the sun were more innovative and creative than their unoriginal day-labouring brethren. In that sense, you're basically tapping into the same evolutionary genius of noted late-risers like James Joyce and Thomas Edison when you're up at 2am flicking through repeats of I Wanna Marry Harry. 

Night owls don't suffer mid-afternoon burnout

Here's a test: wait till the clock hits 3pm and peek over your office cubicle at your morning-lovin' workmate -- that annoyingly cheery person who peppers you with question after question at 9.05am as you grumpily saunter in clad in sunglasses and double-fisting long blacks (like some kinda awesome white collar beatnik) is probably half-dead already. Researchers from Science Mag found that night owls performed better at reaction-time tests later in the day than morning larks, who've already burned through their energy and attentiveness levels by mid-afternoon.  

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Night owls are so chill

Excuse the bro talk. According to research from the University Of Westminster, early risers - those who woke up before 7:21am -- were found to exhibit higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who went to bed later and slept in. More significantly, those cortisol levels remained higher throughout the day, no matter how many cute puppy videos these people received in their email inboxes. Everybody, just sleep a little longer in the morning and the world will quickly come to look like this.

So, there's much to recommend in staying up late to watch little dudes kick a ball around during the last week or two of this World Cup. If futbol's not your thing, well, there's always some late-night sex movie or an air disaster show on ready to charm your heart and, surprisingly, boost your brains.

- Daily Life


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