Night Owls

Who stays more alert the day after a late night? Early birds? Or night owls?

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Occasionally, we all stay up late, then have to get up early. When we’re sleep deprived like this, who’s more alert the next day? People who habitually get up early? Or folks who generally go to bed late?

To find out, sleep researchers from Australia’s Monash University recruited forty-three volunteers. Some night owls, some early birds.
After one week of normal sleep, each subject stayed up three hours later than normal. The next night, they were allowed just three hours of sleep.
The following day the volunteers had their alertness tested.

The researchers also collected saliva samples, to test melatonin levels. That’s the hormone that makes us sleepy. We produce it daily, around the same time each night.

So who was groggier the next day? Night owls.

The researchers say: In general, early birds’ melatonin cycle more closely follows natural daylight and darkness. So they’re more resilient to a night of sleep deprivation.

As for which type has more fun? More research is needed!