According to researchers at the University of Madrid, night owls out-earn their early-rising counterparts and also have higher cognitive abilities. Early risers do better in grammar and secondary school, which, in my opinion, has more to do with those schools requiring cognitive ability at 7:30 am than anything else. Then again, Air Force research found that night owls are better at lateral thinking, regardless of the hour.
Now, I’m a perpetual insomniac and won’t fall asleep until well past midnight unless I’m ill. Since this research indicates that I ought to be brilliant, I’m going to offer my thoughts on this new study. Night people are more extroverted, and extroverts do better in the workforce. So it could be simply that extroverts tend to be night people, but their extroversion is what causes them to succeed in their careers. Introverted night owls (like myself) would see no such advantage.
A different theory: various types of research indicate that rule-followers tend to do fairly well, but not extraordinarily well; valedictorians are doctors, but the person who graduated many spots behind is the captain of industry or the inventor who made millions. Night owls might be those random, creative types who are more likely to really surge ahead of the pack.
Alternatively, years of schooling can turn anyone into a “night person”: after chemical engineering and law school, my brain kicks on at 10 pm in ways that it simply does not during the day. Perhaps I’ll be a creative day thinker years from now, but my fellow nerds and workaholics might be stuck in a nighttime thinking pattern. If you’re one of those people who gets a creative idea, then wants to analyse it to death before moving on to the next activity, you’re going to stay up late when that next activity happens to be “sleep”.
That brings me to my final theory: if your motto in life is “I can sleep when I’m dead,” then you’re not going to be the type to be okay with “good enough.” You’re also not going to fall asleep when there are things to be done, inventions to be invented, writings to be written, and worlds to be conquered.