New research has challenged the popular belief that early risers work better in the day and night owls work better at night, after discovering that the opposite is more commonplace.
The study, by Mareike Wieth and Rose Zacks, suggests our creativity is greatest at the time when we’re not feeling our best. This means early risers feel at their creative best in the evening and people who stay up late, work better early in the morning.
Researchers tested this theory on a group of participants who classed themselves as either the ‘morning-type’ or ‘evening-type’.
They discovered that while most of us deal with challenging and attention-demanding tasks during our peak time of day, it’s the time when we’re less alert that aids creativity.
When we operate at our optimal time of day, we are more likely to filter out the distractions going on around us, and get on with work more effectively. But being distracted can often lead to exploring new ideas thus aiding our creativity.
They also discovered that the dip in concentration levels, caused by being less alert than in the peak time, increases the possibility of the brain considering alternative solutions to problems, which might otherwise be ignored.
The reason for this lies with the body’s natural circadian rhythms that determine whether a person is an early riser or night owl. These rhythms control daily fluctuations in alertness, heart rate and body temperature throughout a 24-hour cycle, as well as the body’s sleep-wake cycle.
“The results showed consistently greater insight problem solving performance during non-optimal times of day compared to optimal times of day,” says the researchers, as reported on the Daily Mail.
“The findings indicate that tasks involving creativity might benefit from a non-optimal time of day.”
A previous study discovered that early risers are happier, healthier and slimmer, whereas another study found that sleep patterns don’t just control how well you sleep, but your immune system too.
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