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Research Says Late Sleepers Are More Intelligent

Research Says Late Sleepers Are More Intelligent

The early bird may get the worm, but the night owl may be smarter – according some research.

Recent studies suggest that those who deviate from their preordained sleeping patterns may do so because they are more intelligent than those who go to bed early.  Not only are they smarter but they are often more creative. Evolutionary scientists say that this is because sleeping in is “evolutionarily novel.” It did not make sense for our ancestors to stay up working late through the night. This is because night time was dangerous. Until recently, there were no Taco Bells at 2 AM, only predators you could not see. The study shows that staying up late has almost nothing to do with heritability. Instead, it has more to do with an individual’s choices. Essentially, it takes a smart person to think to deviate from these evolutionary norms and choose to stay up all night.

Late sleepers may be making the decision to stay up all night instead of sleeping. But why does this make them smart?

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Late Sleepers Are More Creative

In a study performed by the Catholic University of the Sacred heart in Milan, 120 men and women completed a self-reporting questionnaire. The questionnaire asked them about whether they were a morning or an evening person. The groups were then divided up according to their answers. They were then subjected to further tests designed to test their creative ability. The subjects first drew pictures based on images shown to them. They were then told to complete incomplete shapes and give them a title. In the final test, the participants were given a piece of paper with 30 pairs of lines and told to create and title another picture.

The researchers then looked at the results. They judged each picture on flexibility, fluidity originality and elaboration. The results showed that those who identified as night owls scored significantly higher than early risers.

Late sleepers tend to do their best work at night and often find they are more creative after the sun sets. Scientists are not yet sure why this is the case. They think that it goes back to bucking against their evolutionary trends. According to the researchers, these late sleepers showed a “non-conventional spirit and the ability to find alternative and original solutions.”

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Late Sleepers Take Better Advantage of Their Waking Hours

Early risers have a sleeping pattern that sees them awake early in the morning and asleep early at night. However, early risers are more likely to be tired by the mid-afternoon. This means that these people are losing a good part of their day. It turns out that there is a reason for this that has less to do with productivity and more to do with brain chemistry.

A study at the University of Liege looked at the contrasts in brain activity between early risers and night owls. Both groups had similar levels of productivity upon waking. However, after 10 hours, the early risers had significantly lower brain activity. They also had a decreased attention span compared to the night owls.

This means that even though early risers are technically awake for more hours of the day, they are less productive than night owls. This makes the night owls smarter because they take full advance of their sleep cycle. Thus, the night owls are able to do more with their day.

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Late Sleepers Are Less Stressed

In theory, those who wake up late should be less stressed. However, extreme late sleepers have a more relaxing schedule than early risers as a whole.

Another study performed by scientists in Westminster tested the saliva of 42 men and women for two days. The goal was to analyze the level of the stress hormone called cortisol in the body. The results showed that those who woke up early had far higher levels of cortisol than the late sleepers. The results of this study may be of a more environmental nature that the previous studies. Early risers tend to be busier during the day and have no time to read a gold IRA rollover guide to try to make some extra cash. The number of problems they have to solve and the number of times they are hassled is also greater. Thus, early risers have less energy by the time they go back to sleep anyway.

On the other hand, late sleepers generally have the time to live life at more leisurely pace. Thus, they could work longer and not suffer the after lunch slump.

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It turns out that your day is not ruled by what side of the bed you wake up on. It is all what time you wake up. Instead of chastising your favorite night owl for staying up all night, they should be applauded for choosing to kick their evolutionary habits and make the most of their circadian rhythm.

Featured photo credit: Paul Oakenfold At Sutra/Tony Nungaray via flickr.com

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Last Updated on September 28, 2020

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

The Pros and Cons of Working from Home

At the start of the year, if you had asked anyone if they could do their work from home, many would have said no. They would have cited the need for team meetings, a place to be able to sit down and get on with their work, the camaraderie of the office, and being able to meet customers and clients face to face.

Almost ten months later, most of us have learned that we can do our work from home and in many ways, we have discovered working from home is a lot better than doing our work in a busy, bustling office environment where we are inundated with distractions and noise.

One of the things the 2020 pandemic has reminded us is we humans are incredibly adaptable. It is one of the strengths of our kind. Yet we have been unknowingly practicing this for years. When we move house we go through enormous upheaval.

When we change jobs, we not only change our work environment but we also change the surrounding people. Humans are adaptable and this adaptability gives us strength.

So, what are the pros and cons of working from home? Below I will share some things I have discovered since I made the change to being predominantly a person who works from home.

Pro #1: A More Relaxed Start to the Day

This one I love. When I had to be at a place of work in the past, I would always set my alarm to give me just enough time to make coffee, take a shower, and change. Mornings always felt like a rush.

Now, I can wake up a little later, make coffee and instead of rushing to get out of the door at a specific time, I can spend ten minutes writing in my journal, reviewing my plan for the day, and start the day in a more relaxed frame of mind.

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When you start the day in a relaxed state, you begin more positively. You find you have more clarity and more focus and you are not wasting energy worrying about whether you will be late.

Pro #2: More Quiet, Focused Time = Increased Productivity

One of the biggest difficulties of working in an office is the noise and distractions. If a colleague or boss can see you sat at your desk, you are more approachable. It is easier for them to ask you questions or engage you in meaningless conversations.

Working from home allows you to shut the door and get on with an hour or two of quiet focused work. If you close down your Slack and Email, you avoid the risk of being disturbed and it is amazing how much work you can get done.

An experiment conducted in 2012 found that working from home increased a person’s productivity by 13%, and more recent studies also find significant increases in productivity.[1]

When our productivity increases, the amount of time we need to perform our work decreases, and this means we can spend more time on activities that can bring us closer to our family and friends as well as improve our mental health.

Pro #3: More Control Over Your Day

Without bosses and colleagues watching over us all day, we have a lot more control over what we do. While some work will inevitably be more urgent than others, we still get a lot more choice about what we work on.

We also get more control over where we work. I remember when working in an office, we were given a fixed workstation. Some of these workstations were pleasant with a lot of natural sunlight, but other areas were less pleasant. It was often the luck of the draw whether we find ourselves in a good place to work or not.

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By working from home we can choose what work to work on and whether we want to face a window or not. We can get up and move to another place, and we can move from room to room. And if you have a garden, on nice days you could spend a few hours working outside.

Pro #4: You Get to Choose Your Office Environment

While many companies will provide you with a laptop or other equipment to do your work, others will give you an allowance to purchase your equipment. But with furniture such as your chair and desk, you have a lot of freedom.

I have seen a lot of amazing home working spaces with wonderful sets up—better chairs, laptop stands that make working from a laptop much more ergonomic and therefore, better for your neck.

You can also choose your wall art and the little nick-nacks on your desk or table. With all this freedom, you can create a very personal and excellent working environment that is a pleasure to work in. When you are happy doing your work, you will inevitably do better work.

Con #1: We Move a Lot Less

When we commute to a place of work, there is movement involved. Many people commute using public transport, which means walking to the bus stop or train station. Then, there is the movement at lunchtime when we go out to buy our lunch. Working in a place of work requires us to move more.

Unfortunately, working from home naturally causes us to move less and this means we are not burning as many calories as we need to.

Moving is essential to our health and if you are working from home you need to become much more aware of your movement. To ensure you are moving enough, make sure you take your lunch breaks. Get up from your desk and move. Go outside, if you can, and take a walk. And, of course, refrain from regular trips to the refrigerator.

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Con #2: Less Human Interaction

One of the nicest things about bringing a group of people together to work is the camaraderie and relationships that are built over time. Working from home takes us away from that human interaction and for many, this can cause a feeling of loss.

Humans are a social species—we need to be with other people. Without that connection, we start to feel lonely and that can lead to mental health issues.

Zoom and Microsoft Teams meeting cannot replace that interaction. Often, the interactions we get at our workplaces are spontaneous. But with video calls, there is nothing spontaneous—most of these calls are prearranged and that’s not spontaneous.

This lack of spontaneous interaction can also reduce a team’s ability to develop creative solutions—there’s just something about a group of incredibly creative people coming together in a room to thrash out ideas together that lends itself to creativity.

While video calls can be useful, they don’t match the connection between a group of people working on a solution together.

Con #3: The Cost of Buying Home Office Equipment

Not all companies are going to provide you with a nice allowance to buy expensive home office equipment. 100% remote companies such as Doist (the creators of Todoist and Twist) provide a $2,000 allowance to all their staff every two years to buy office equipment. Others are not so generous.

This can prove to be expensive for many people to create their ideal work-from-home workspace. Many people must make do with what they already have, and that could mean unsuitable chairs that damage backs and necks.

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For a future that will likely involve more flexible working arrangements, companies will need to support their staff in ways that will add additional costs to an already reduced bottom line.

Con #4: Unique Distractions

Not all people have the benefit of being able to afford childcare for young children, and this means they need to balance working and taking care of their kids.

For many parents, being able to go to a workplace gives them time away from the noise and demands of a young family, so they could get on with their work. Working from home removes this and can make doing video calls almost impossible.

To overcome this, where possible, you need to set some boundaries. I know this is not always possible, but it is something you need to try. You should do whatever you can to make sure you have some boundaries between your work life and home life.

Final Thoughts

Working from home can be hugely beneficial for many people, but it can also bring serious challenges to others.

We are moving towards a new way of working. Therefore, companies need to look at both the pros and cons of working from home and be prepared to support their staff in making this transition. It will not be impossible, but a lot of thought will need to go into it.

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Featured photo credit: Standsome Worklifestyle via unsplash.com

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