Whether a person is a night owl or not is determined largely by a gene known as Period -3, which controls the body's biological clock. The gene builds sleep pressure more slowly, so the person gets tired at a slower rate. This means that, as the day progresses, night owls will get progressively more active.
Night owls eat more, and are often overweight, which tends to impact their health; especially their cholesterol level is usually higher. For this reason, they often suffer from sleep apnea and snoring. Also, the hormones related to stress are at a higher level, which can aggravate the condition. However, the period 3 gene responsible for the sleep cycle also reduces the risk of cancer in them.
The lack of sleep in night owls can make them more sensitive to stiffness and pain while waking up. While this pain occurs in most people over the age of 40, being a night owl magnifies the pain. This is because the body releases anti-inflammatory materials early in the morning, but since they get up late, they miss the effects of these chemicals which can reduce the pain.
Research suggests that night owls tend to seek out new sensations, risks, and are often extroverted. Also, they cannot control their impulses very well. They are also lateral thinkers, which is why people find them to be more fun that early risers. However, the loss of sleep also tends to make them more prone to depression, anxiety, and hallucinations.
People who like to work and play at night are thought to have evolved to possess the 'dark triad' of psychological traits: narcissism, manipulativeness, and psychopathy. These traits are believed to have developed because darkness gives negative elements a way to hide their acts, giving them an evolutionary advantage.
Night Owls Might Have Poorer Memory But Higher IQs
Sleep has four phases, but because night owls sleep later, their fourth stage of sleep might end prematurely. This phase of sleep is essential to create long term memories. Therefore, by compromising on sleep time, they are risking their memory formation process. On the other hand, studies comparing night owls to early birds show that, night owls generally have higher IQs.
Night Owl Trivia
Some of the most famous night owls include Charles Darwin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Adolf Hitler, Winston Churchill, and Barack Obama.