A recent British study conducted by researchers at the University of Birmingham showed that the nature of brain work varies between those who wake up early and those who sleep until late hours.
Researchers looked at the brain function (among other things) of people who were categorised as either night owls, who had an average bedtime of 2:30am and a wake-up time of 10am, or morning larks, who had average bedtime of 11pm and wake time of 6:30am.
Overall, researchers found that night owls had lower resting brain connectivity in ways that are associated with poorer attention, slower reactions and increased sleepiness throughout the hours of a typical work day.
Meanwhile, brain connectivity in the regions of the brain that can predict better performance and lower sleepiness were significantly higher in larks at all times, “suggesting that the resting state brain connectivity of night owls is impaired throughout the whole day.” The “resting state” of the brain, Live Science notes, means not doing a particular task and letting the mind wander.
The sample included 38 people, half of whom slept early and the other half who used to sleep for the first morning hours.
They were then examined using magnetic resonance imaging (magnetic resonance imaging) to detect brain signals.
The sample was asked to perform some mental tests and practical tasks on a 12-hour basis between 8am and 8pm, they want to have a nap during the day.
However, knowing whether you’re an early person, night owl or somewhere in between can help you optimise your productivity throughout the day, according to Daniel Pink, author of When: The Scientific Secrets of Perfect Timing.
The morning is the best time to do analytical work that requires focus, and more administrative or routine work should be done later in the day.
The reverse is true for night owls.
“A huge number of people struggle to deliver their best performance during work or school hours they are not naturally suited to,” says the study’s lead researcher, Dr Elise Facer-Childs, of the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Human Brain Health.”There is a critical need to increase our understanding of these issues in order to minimise health risks in society, as well as maximise productivity.”
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