Study: Smarter people go to bed later

He’s got numbers to show it. And it may be true. The question is whether going to bed later makes you smarter, or whether smarter people choose to go to bed later, need less sleep, think too much and can’t get to sleep, have more to do, or what. From Psychology Today:

Night Lights

Bedtimes and wake-up times for Americans in their 20s by IQ.

Very Dull (IQ < 75) Weekday: 11:41 P.M.-7:20 A.M. Weekend: 12:35 A.M.-10:09 A.M. Normal (90 < IQ < 110) Weekday: 12:10 A.M.-7:32 A.M. Weekend: 1:13 A.M.-10:14 A.M. Very Bright (IQ > 125)

Weekday: 12:29 A.M.-7:52 A.M.

Weekend: 1:44 A.M.-11:07 A.M.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

Share This Post

50 Responses to “Study: Smarter people go to bed later”

  1. Elodin says:

    Also, yes I felt the need to comment on a dead post.

  2. Elodin says:

    That feel when people are discounting the study because they do not have the same sleep pattern as their IQ category is shown to have in the study.

    A study is not meant to be applied to an individual, a study is meant to be applied to a population. The population of people with IQs >125 will, on average, go to sleep at ~12:29am on a weekday.

    The study this data came from was very well done, as it included over 14,000 respondents who were interviewed three times over a period of eight years. Also, LSE, the school which did the study, is a very well regarded school. I would be surprised if it wasn’t in the top 100 in the world.

    Gah. The number of (apparently) high-IQ people here who do not understand basic statistics is absurd.

    Also, to those of you who claimed people with a ‘real job’ cannot wake up at 7:52am without being late for work, who are you to claim that?

    Your job may very well be a typical 8-6(or 8-4, etc). Not everyone does, especially people in more intellectual fields.

    The first year of working at my current job I was miserable. My hours were 8-6 which I hated. That being said I completed all of my work well in advance of when it need to be completed, and it was high quality work. After a year of it though I decided something needed to change, as despite the high salary I was miserable.
    So I spoke to my boss, explained that I am naturally more active at night, and told him I would be much more productive if I had later hours. He pointed out that I was the most productive of the first-years and that he didn’t think I would be able to improve much. I suggested that I should try out a new schedule for 3-months and that he could make a better decision after that. He said that I had earned that much and agreed to it. So my hours were 10-8, and right off the bat I noticed about a 50% increase in my productivity, which continued. That was four years ago. My work hours are still 10-8, and I now love my job.

  3. Nick says:

    I don’t think that going to bed later will make you smarter, it will just make u stupid as you more likely don’t have any energry in the next day, I usually felt tired and not willing to think of anything even what to eat for my lunch when I go to bed too late.

    However, I believe that smarter people are more likely to go to bed later cause they might focus on their work till late and not notice it, just like Einstein.


  4. Toastie says:

    I love when people reject such studies because their personal experience doesn’t conform with the results. And I think people are over-analyzing when writing about sleep patterns.

    Maybe I’m over-analyzing, but this is my gut reaction… Smarter people TEND TO wind up with employers who care more about getting the job done right than if their employees come in at a certain hour. A large company that doesn’t trust its employees to behave like adults, enforcing strict hours, internet usage, etc, probably doesn’t attract as many smart people as the small company that may require longer hours but is far more flexible.

    I know smart people who work in retail, but they’re the exception. If their store opens at 9 AM, they’ve got to be up at 7 AM. I know smart teachers, but they’re the exception. They’ve got to be up at 6 AM.

    I’m making generalizations because generalizations produce study results. Many of the people reading this blog are probably outliers on all sorts of measurements. There’s no reason to be so offended…”well it’s from that stupid-people magazine Psychology Today, so it’s a stupid study anyway”.

  5. S in PA says:

    Morning TV sucks. There’s nothing remotely educational on in the AM (I assume that’s part of the “dumbing down of America” strategy). All the best TV is on late at night, that’s when you can actually learn something new (you’d be surprised how much you can glean from watching “Robot Chicken” and “Aqua Teen Hunger Force”).

  6. Thomas J. Coleman says:

    I was told my IQ is 135 but sometimes I feel really dim when getting up late because I was out all night! Already a slacker, an underachiever (and ADHD as it turned out, but none of this was considered “abnormal” back in the Dazed and Confused ’70’s Show era), my high school educators were under strict orders not to tell me what my IQ was but I tricked one of them into letting me know. And they were right: I slacked off even more, went to sleep and got up even later, all with greater confidence!

  7. devlzadvocate says:

    Looking for late night cape and cowl partner to haunt streets of Gotham. Benefits.

  8. Griffon says:

    I guess as long as you’re wearing the cape and cowl when you do it, it counts.

  9. devlzadvocate says:

    Does reading, blogging, writing letters etc. to PO that vermin count as haunting? I have a lot of questions lately, don’t I?

  10. ScootFla says:

    I sometimes think better very late at night and am able to resolve problems with the databases or websites I work on when it’s after midnight and I’m dealing with that late surge of brain energy. I go to bed usually between 1am and 2am and wake up at 7:00 during the weekdays to be at work at 8. I don’t like doing this because I love having a good night’s sleep, but I’m hardly ever able to have one of those unless I’m just drained from a tough day at work. I had my IQ tested at 1:00 in the morning about a year ago (part of a sleep study to see why I wasn’t able to get tired early enough to get to sleep) and the test had me clocked at 132. My IQ in the daytime is around 140 (tested a few years back). I’m no genius, because I think the smartest thing for me to do would be to figure out a way to get tired earlier.

  11. ArtemisMS says:

    Or maybe there are more stupid people than smart people in the world :P

    *pops open another can of caffeine-filled diet soda*

  12. Griffon says:

    Depends on if you’re haunting the mean streets of Gotham and bringing the criminal vermin to justice.

  13. GoBlue says:

    Smart people are always reading a book that they can’t put down, so they stay up late trying to read it to the end.

  14. Yaaaawwnn…… Pardon me. I just got up.

  15. devlzadvocate says:

    Do you get extra points for waking up every night from 1 am to 4 am?

  16. captainfrogbert says:

    Ha! I got this one nailed! I just set my clocks forward three hours. Now when I go to bed at eleven, I’m actually going to bed at two a.m. I am TOTALLY smarter!

  17. Bose says:

    I appreciate this, not because I find it terribly convincing, but for suggesting that sleep patterns vary among functional people.

    I never had significant sleep problems. I can sleep pretty much anywhere. I seldom need an alarm. Sleep schedules and amounts vary with my commitments (self employed, so they’re not 9-to-5) and general energy level. If I have a couple shorter-sleep days, I can even things out soon enough.

    The first-ever sleep problem, a few months back, didn’t come from the sleep but family members when we started sharing space. Their understanding of the data from the experts is that the only healthy pattern very structured — consistent amounts, times, lying in bed awake as needed at the appointed times. While they stress about their sleep, I got badgered because I was content with mine. The arm-chair diagnoses have been that I’m variously in denial, sleep deprived, disordered, and just plain misguided.

    I support anyone getting the help they need to get the sleep they need; I’m just skeptical of attempts to get too structured or regimented in our understanding of it.

  18. nicho says:

    The norm is that most people work regular jobs, many of which start early in the morning. Hence, the early morning traffic jams. That’s what makes this study totally bogus. If people’s working hours were widely distributed, there would be no “morning rush hour.”

  19. Minnie says:

    Why do americans always assume that everyone on the internet lives in America?

  20. Anonymous says:

    Dumbest ‘study’ ever. We’re talking a difference of minutes here.

  21. Uncephalized says:

    I have two jobs currently, neither of which starts at 8AM. One is a research job in a physics lab, for which I work flextime (I often go into work around 2PM and work until 6 or 8), and the other is as a campus computer tech, also in the afternoons a few days a week.Both my IQ and my sleep habits fall neatly into the >125 category above, except since I don’t work mornings I generally sleep well past 8AM, even on weekdays.

  22. ArtemisMS says:

    I’m 29 and I’ve had jobs that started at 8, 9:30, 12, 6pm … I’m an English instructor ;)

    Not everyone shares your life experience, and that doesn’t make either you or me “the norm.”

  23. mf_roe says:

    One study involved long term isolation in a cave. The subject had no clock and no way of knowing day from night. The subject at the end of the experiment had shifted into a longer day. His sleep pattern had readjusted to about 25 hours per day. The people who move to extreme latitudes have real sleep problems and suffer real problems that appear to be sleep related. Apparently its the long periods of darkness that cause the worst effects. Look what “Cabin Fever” did to Sarah.

  24. cowboyneok says:

    I live the movie “Inception” LOL!

    Funny story, partner and I were watching “Inception” last night. Well, he is a “snoring machine” as I’ve mentioned several times on here. There were two really cute young gay guys who choose to sit several seats away from us. I recognized they looked at us like, “Awwww, that will be us in thirty years!” (LOL!) Any way, during the movie the “snoring machine” started doing his best vacuum cleaner impression. I was appalled. The young gay couple looked over at us with horrified expressions on their face, and I grimly shook my head with a “Just wait, boys! This will be YOU in thirty years…” I then elbowed him and he woke up PISSED OFF because he had been DREAMING he was watching the movie and wondered why I was harrassing him. Anyone who has seen “Inception” will get the obvious situational comedy of this happening.

  25. Just an elbow says:

    Mornings are sublime…. nothing like the quiet.

  26. Griffon says:

    That sounds familiar.

    One such study resulted in the subjects adopting something like a 4-hour cycle spaced closer together I think.

  27. timncguy says:

    i’ve always been lucky in the “commute” dept. Have never had to drive more than 20 minutes to get to work. But, have always lived in small to medium sized cities. don’t think i could ever handle a commute any longer than that.

  28. Just an elbow says:

    My cat doesn’t permit me to sleep past 6:30 am. So i guess that outs me in the walnut sized brain category.
    Seriously, these researchers can’t find someone with a job?

  29. Griffon says:

    So we are all just your dream. (insert Twilight Zone theme)

    Don’t wake up yet, I’ve too much I want to do.

  30. mf_roe says:

    Sleep is influenced by environment, research has shown changes in natural sleep patterns when time keeping and illumination are altered.

  31. cowboyneok says:

    What if, like me, you go to bed at 3:00 am and never wake up?

  32. cowboyneok says:

    Not very many twenty year olds I know have a very easy time finding a job. Remember, we had EIGHT YEARS of Bu$hco. tax cuts for the ultra wealthy and they shoved all that money away… Jobs are trickling back because Republicans, with the help of spineless Democrats, refused to use Keynesian Economic principals to provide a robust recovery. Most twenty year olds I know are LUCKY to have jobs at all… I know this because my partner and I have two kids in their twenties and they are the LUCKY ones. Many of their friends aren’t as lucky…

  33. Hue-Man says:

    And they don’t live on the West Coast (I had to work on the phone with people on the East Coast and Europe) and don’t have the “normal” 68 minute commute from suburbia to downtown. 5 hours sleep is a luxury.

  34. nicho says:

    And I rarely make it to 11 pm. So, I guess I’m lucky I can tie my shoes.

  35. Griffon says:

    Extra “Like” for ‘nonsense on stilts.’

  36. timncguy says:

    apparently people in their 20s don’t have typical jobs because none of these respondents get up early enough on weekdays to go to work unless they are going in their pajamas without having had a shower. I’ve worked for over 30 years and every job I’ve ever had started at 8am. Admittedly the jobs I’ve had were all technical jobs in large corporations.

  37. Griffon says:

    I cannot agree with this.

    Layman notwithstanding, I do notice the quality of sleep depending on the hour of retiring and the specific results. There are aspects of my physicality and mental processes that are markedly, though subtly, altered depending on which sleep I’ve achieved.

    True, amount depends largely on specific genetics and metabolism, and adapting to technological evolution such as lighting and information access are going to encourage an adjustment to an enquiring mind.


    There is also evidence that later bedtimes miss arguably crucial restorative processes at different points during a ‘relatively normal’ sleep cycle. Intelligence doesn’t necessarily equate to health, and some of the most driven minds, both artistically and scientifically accede to an obsessive inquisitiveness at a physical price.

    Early risers were perhaps less likely to become casualties of the traditional food chain and are quite possibly the ancestors by which we have evolved.

    The variables by which this study was conducted doubtless involved the modern world and the inherent pressures of an imposed pseudo culture of emphasized technology, electricity and a workweek pattern that permitted that which is limited mostly to evening hours: the more broad informational melange and social interactions that are all but absent or prohibitive during established morning hour patterns.

    Example: When was the last time a group of friends lingered over morning coffee, chewing over the most recent developments, without hustling off to the culturally imposed schedule of corporate demand?

    Additionally, since this mindset of later-to-bed is a cultural norm, it may also be argued that it is a contributing factor in our national obesity epidemic since a tired individual tends to signal the body to consume more as an offset to less regenerative sleep. Further, the advent of unlimited, stimulative activities has robbed us of understanding the necessity of sleep preparation and time to decelerate into proper relaxation.

    Mornings, as well as being quieter and less crowded, are sublime.

  38. Gary SFBCN says:

    Super intelligent but very bored with inane postings such as this:

    Weekday or Weekend: Falls asleep while trying to read it.


  39. NotTimothyGeithner says:

    Now that I think about it, this basically says the differences in sleep patterns between IQs amounts to about an hour. Duration is relatively similar, even among the people most likely to do physical labor.

  40. Indigo says:

    When has slickly printed and glossy Psychology Today ever been a reputable source of professonal research? I didn’t think so, although I readily conceed that it’s an entertaining source of psycho-babble with emphasis on the psycho.

    Now tell us about mood rings . . .

  41. NotTimothyGeithner says:

    There are a host of problems now that I’ve put more thought into it.

    -Using people in their 20’s. That may be the worse group short of people between 14 and 20 to study.

    -Bedding products would make a difference.


    -Time spent at work vs. home

    -jobs; someone has to man the toll booths before people get on the road

    Also, people in their 20’s are likely to be in college more so than people on a regular work schedule when they have to awake during the day.

  42. Donna_Q says:

    I’m sorry, but this strikes me as absolute nonsense on stilts. My I.Q. is well into the superior range, I’m a high academic achiever and I can solve (the lamentably now-retired) Frank Lewis’s cryptic crosswords in The Nation with dazzling speed. Clever though I be, I require a lot of sleep and I am anything but a night owl. This PT study is bilge, poppycock, flapdoodle, claptrap, rubbish, and so on.

  43. NotTimothyGeithner says:

    I wonder how regular exercise affects this, and the location of the sun in the morning. It would stand to reason smarter people have earned more money and would be more likely to live in an open environment as opposed to a slum. My old bedroom growing up had skylights and I never woke up groggy except on cloudy days when I could sleep for hours because I was so use to the sun.

  44. BeccaM says:

    Didn’t the Shrubbenfuhrer have a habit of always going to bed by around 9pm?

  45. monopole says:

    I go to bed at 10:30pm but get up at 3:30am

  46. mf_roe says:

    There is a theory that the mind needs sleep to convert experience into long term memory, to convert stimulus into useful understanding. It would follow that a less powerful mind might need more time to make this conversion.

    Or it could be that only in dreams can the dull hope to achieve what the bright pick up in wakefulness.

  47. KarenMrsLloydRichards says:

    Teabagger Day:

    0700: Wake up. Peruse favorite anti-Obama sites.

    0800: Breakfast at Denny’s (remembered fondly as “Sambo’s”)

    1000: Mid-morning nap. Fall asleep to Rush.

    1200: Lunch at private golf club. A “minority” buses table. Outrage.

    1400: Mid-afternoon nap.

    1500: Read Breitbart/Drudge/Newsmax.

    1600: Early-Bird-Special for dinner. Eat Gulf seafood to prove Obama wrong.

    1800: Sit down with videotaping of Glenn Beck.

    1900: Fall asleep to Glenn Beck.

    2000: Wake up for O’Reilly.

    2100: Bed-time. Dream of coup d’etat/assassination.

  48. Fireblazes says:

    Apparently most of you are going to bed just as I am arising.

  49. Chris From Maine says:

    I go to bed around 3am. I guess that means I’m a genius.

© 2019 AMERICAblog Media, LLC. All rights reserved. · Entries RSS