New Study Identifies Brain Differences in Night Owlsadmin
If you’re wondering why it may take you three cups of coffee to start functioning in the morning while your co-worker walks in all bright and chipper at 9 am, a new study now claims you can blame your brain.
A new study published in the journal of Sleep claims that so-called “night owls” have “reduced connectivity in brain regions linked to consciousness, meaning that during normal working hours they are hindered by sleepiness, a lack of attention, and slower reaction times,” IFLScience.com reported.
An international team of scientists, led by the University of Birmingham, recruited 38 volunteers and observed their sleep/wake cycles, biological rhythms, and questionnaire answers to determine if they were night owls or “morning larks”. Next, the participants underwent MRI scans before completing various tasks during the day. They also reported how sleepy they felt.
The researchers found that morning larks were less sleepy in the morning, while night owls performed their best at 8 pm. When looking at the participant’s brain activity, they found that connectivity in regions that predict better performance and reduce sleepiness was much higher in the brains of early risers, which suggests night owl’s brains remain impaired from 8 am-8 pm.
“This mismatch between a person’s biological time and social time – which most of us have experienced in the form of jet lag – is a common issue for night owls trying to follow a normal working day,” lead researcher Dr. Elise Facer-Childs explains. “Our study is the first to show a potential intrinsic neuronal mechanism behind why ‘night owls’ may face cognitive disadvantages when being forced to fit into these constraints.”
It’s important to note that not only is this study the first of its kind, it also pulled from a very small participant pool. Further research will need to be conducted to confirm this team’s findings.