People Who Get Up Early Are Literally Not Very Smart, Study Finds

It’s a sad fact that wine and gym memberships cost money, so unless you’re part of the Kardashian/Jenner clan, you have to show up to work every weekday after a protracted battle with your alarm clock. According to a recent study, though, your relationship with the snooze button doesn’t mean you’re lazy; instead, it might reaffirm your status as a gift to man- and womankind.


In a British paper, researchers Satoshi Kanazawa and Kaja Perina point out that for most of human history, people have been letting the sun set their sleep schedule, because trying to get shit done in the dark is impossible. Electric lights and alarms are pretty recent inventions, so Kanazawa and Perina claim that evolution hasn’t prepared us for the modern way of living, aka staying up past sundown and using alarm clocks to wake up. This led them to believe that people who sleep in are more adaptable, and therefore more intelligent, than tryhards who leap out of bed in the morning like our ancestors did.

To test their idea, researchers used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, which followed more than 15,000 people from when they were kids into adulthood. As you can guess from the name, the survey asked participants a bunch of health-related questions over the years (from 1995 to 2008, to be exact), but researchers focused on comparing sleep patterns and IQ tests to see if they were related.

What they found should excuse all those times you’ve rolled into the office three hours late. According to their analysis, kids with higher IQs were more likely to report nocturnal sleep patterns as adults. In other words, more intelligent kids grew up to be the kind of adult who’s always late to brunch because they were awake until 3am scrolling through Instagram/replaying embarrassing moments from childhood/writing the next great American novel.


Honestly, I’m not at all surprised because anyone who voluntarily wakes up before 9am on a Saturday must be brain damaged.

But wait! There’s more! Tbh, the study authors are making some pretty broad claims here. Their idea is that nocturnal people are more adaptable and therefore more intelligent, but you may have noticed that their study didn’t actually test the adaptability part. It just found some correlations between sleep patterns and IQ, which is the kind of research that takes, like, the bare minimum of effort. Psychologists—they’re just like us! Because clearly these guys phoned it in. 

On the other hand, other studies have shown that night owls stay mentally alert longer than morning people, and they tend to be less stressed. So morning people can keep doing their thing at an ungodly hour, but I’ll be hitting the snooze button for as long as I damn well please because I thought watching 14 episodes of Workaholics in a row was a good idea last night. (Spoiler alert: It was.)