Friday, December 23, 2011

Early to Bed, Early to Rise Probably Means You're a Dim Bulb

One of the many oddities I noticed about Bend almost immediately after moving here was how early in the morning the inhabitants wake up. Winter or summer, cold or hot, rain or snow, they awaken long before the rosy fingers of dawn touch the tops of the Cascades and often are outside running, cycling, climbing rocks or doing myriad other "healthy outdoor lifestyle" things while it's still dark.

And of course they go to bed correspondingly early, which is one reason Bend's nightlife rivals that of a Carmelite nunnery.

I've never been able to figure out the reason for this early-rising fetish. Is is a holdover from the era when Bend had a primarily agricultural economy and folks had to rise before dawn to milk the chickens and slop the cows, or whatever? That didn't seem like a fully satisfactory explanation.

But now some research reported in Psychology Today sheds light on the question. Quite possibly, it appears, people in Bend rise early and go to bed early because they're stupid.

"Night owls are smarter than other people, and now we may know why," the story says. "The modern world contains many features our slow-to-evolve brains still find unfamiliar — cars, TVs, hot dogs on a stick. But the world has always thrown new stuff at us, and brighter humans may adapt more ably. ... Because the nocturnal lifestyle allowed by electricity didn't exist 10,000 years ago, we must now rely on general intelligence to override our early-to-bed instincts. So those with more of it stay up later."

The article mentions research by Satoshi Kanazawa, a psychologist at The London School of Economics and Political Science, who tracked bedtimes and wake-up times for 20-year-old people of varying levels of intelligence. The results are quite intriguing: On weekends (when not compelled to rise early for a job) the "very bright" subjects (IQ of 125 or higher) awakened, on average, at 11:07 a.m., a full 58 minutes later than the "very dull" ones (IQ of less than 75), and went to bed one hour and nine minutes later.

Since the average Bendian appears to rise at 4:10 a.m., I'd guess the average IQ in this town hovers somewhere around 25. Which would be consistent with my other observations of the Bendians' behavior, such as their driving skills.

And the fact that they live here in the first place.

ADDENDUM: On the other hand, there is this: "Night owls tend to be less reliable, more emotionally unstable, and more likely to have problems with addictions and eating disorders, according to a 2008 study by psychologist Marina Giamnietro. They are also more likely to drink alcohol and smoke, says Dutch psychiatrist Walter van den Broek ..." More here. It might also be noted that research shows more intelligent people are more likely to drink, smoke and dabble with drugs than dummies.


Marshall_Will said...

Most interesting! One, as a nation we really should explore further.

I've done my share of night/swing shifts in the military and generally liked it. Regardless of shift just felt like I "ran better" on 4 to 5 hours of sleep. Subscribing to the Keith Richards' we'll get plenty of sleep once we're dead school and in total ( you get a few extra lifetimes snuck in by not sleeping your LIFE away! )

Then again ( you'll wind up looking like Keith Richards? ) Still, you have to cheer for those that get up and KEEP their New Year's resolutions by getting that jog or bike in early. Especially if that's the only time they can make it happen?

But what's the point if all that dedication doesn't buy you anything on the other end? This country isn't divided enough, we have to have a Fit Crowd AND a Party Crowd? WHY! Just another reason I'm more a fan of cricket and beerball than Extreme Anti-Social 'sports'.

H. Bruce Miller said...

"Subscribing to the Keith Richards' we'll get plenty of sleep once we're dead school"

That can work if you have Keith Richards's iron constitution, I guess. Most of us don't. Chronic sleep deprivation is associated with all sorts of physical and mental ailments, from depression to cancer.

Marshall_Will said...

That and if ever there were one prone to um... embellishments? Rock stars and musicians ultimately become nocturnal.

No grudge to be held, just comes w/ the job? I happen to believe that Partying is a Natural State of Man. I also happen to believe that *suppressing* it is as unhealthy and unnatural as OVER doing it! Lots of horror stories about straight-laced college bound kids and their first time away from 'home'.

Most partiers view "health nuts" as hopelessly square and the contra? "Waste cases!" An unfortunate spinoff to our puritanical roots. It doesn't have to be this way. As a couple, we seldom miss a party but leave the midnight-on for the younger crowd. If something is going to go wrong, that is when it will happen.

H. Bruce Miller said...

There are quite a few people in Bend who are BOTH "fitness nuts" and "party animals," if you can picture that. They get shitfaced on PBR on Friday night and they're out there mountain biking or rock climbing or hitting the gym on Saturday morning.

Of course this isn't a routine you can keep up forever.

Marshall_Will said...


This generation is having a dire and difficult time striking a balance. Retirees in FL from the rustbelt had it so easy back in the day. A round of golf, followed by endless rounds at the clubhouse.

Be it thru the VA or their union-paid healthcare coverage, drinking yourself to an early grave was long considered your perfect Right.

In conjuction w/ early to bed blah blah, many employers are now 'offering' Wellness Plans. Just tell us how many times a week you eat fish, workout, have drinks [smoke] and we'll give you a "discount". Well that's not exactly true, if you DON'T fill it out and answer all kinds of personal questions, we'll PENALIZE you by jacking up your premiums!

Here's the kicker, even though we've both made great strides losing weight, working out and trying to eat right, our scores went DOWN since last year! Substantially. It's no more Mr. Nice Guy and they are def. raising the bar. Sculpting our behavior.

Yes, they are now asking if you "Engage in Extreme Sports". We 'don't' so can't tell more about the drop downs sure to follow. Finally, grumpy old wine drinkers and whacked out jocks have something in 'common'. The Powers That Be don't approve of EITHER of us!