Video: The Scientific Reason "Night Owls" Are Punished in a 9-5 World

Burning the midnight oil is in their blood.

Sleep is the holy grail of health, but unlike the real Holy Grail, it can actually be pretty easy to obtain for some people. For others, it can feel like your biology is directly opposed to doing this simple activity during society’s allotted times. Well, my fellow Night Owls, it turns out that your worst fears are true: being an “evening person” is a genetic trait that screws you over if you live a 9-5 lifestyle.

Recent studies have shown that the reason people are naturally inclined to wake up early or stay up late is because of their genes. Their internal clocks, even after following similar sleep schedules, are still vastly different. In a recent study out of the University of Birmingham, researchers tested just how different these two different groups of people would function during a workday.

The study revolved around a group of people, half of which considered themselves “morning larks” and the other half who considered themselves “night owls.” Their brain activity was monitored at various points throughout the day, and asked to self-report peak sleepiness and focus during waking hours.

As the video above shows, ultimately, they found that “morning larks” had higher resting brain connectivity — which in turn was associated with better attentional performance and lower daytime sleepiness over the course of the working day. The lead researcher in the study, Dr. Facer-Childs, explains that this likely means their brains were more primed for doing tasks and being less sleepy.

And yes, unfortunately, the opposite was found for “night owls.” They showed poorer performance, diminished focus, and higher sleepiness during working hours. Facer-Childs believes this research suggests that the rigid 9-5 schedule might need to loosen up in order to fit the needs of everyone. Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

To find out more about the study, watch the video above, and subscribe to Inverse on YouTube for more science breakdowns!

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