Forget the worms and bring on the nightlife

Study shows that early birds tire out more quickly than night owls.
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Oct 13, 2009
By dvm360.com staff

If you’ve ever stayed up late working on a project only to get a burst of energy in the 11th hour, you’re definitely a night owl. But did you know that you also may have an advantage over your early rising

counterparts, says a study out of Belgium that recently was published in the Scientific American. Researchers studied 16 early birds and 15 night owls as they slept and while they were awake, giving them cognitive tests twice a day while the subjects were in an MRI scanner.

At first, there was little difference between the early birds and night owls. An hour and a half after waking, members from both groups were equally alert and showed no difference in attention-related brain activity. But fast forward 10 and a half hours, and that was no longer the case.

The night owls were more alert, performed better on a reaction-time task requiring sustained attention and showed increased activity in brain areas linked to attention.

Unfortunately for the early birds, they didn’t get this late-day pick-me-up. Researchers concluded that faster activation of sleep pressure appears to prevent early risers from that natural energy jolt.