A new study published in the journal of Evolutionary Psychology has found that night owls, or people who prefer to stay up late, possess higher levels of cortisol. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, also known as the “stress hormone.”
For years, psychologists have claimed that high levels of cortisol were harmful to the human body. According to Psychology Today, “Scientists have known for years that elevated cortisol levels: interfere with learning and memory, lower immune function and bone density, increase weight gain, blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease…”
Not only that but high cortisol levels put you at risk for depression and other psychiatric disorders. But after this study was produced, which was led by professor Dario Maestriperi of the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago, it seems that high levels of cortisol isn’t necessarily always a bad thing.
Men and women who stay up late have been found to have high levels of cortisol, which contributes to their high metabolism, high energy, and even arousability. You might be thinking, why would being a night owl contribute to one’s arousability?
Supposedly, these night owls possess high levels of cortisol as well as testosterone, contributing to their tendency towards risk-taking with partners and money — especially men. According to the Daily Mail, “Male night owls had twice as many sexual partners than male ‘early birds.’” Both male and female night owls tended to be single, preferring to engage in short-term relationships or one-night stands.
To find these results, U of Chicago researchers tested the saliva of 110 males and 91 females to check their saliva for cortisol and testosterone levels. Men were found to have higher cortisol and testosterone levels than women, contributing to the fact that the men engaged in more promiscuous and risky behavior than the females. Also more men are night owls than females in general.
So while people with high cortisol tend to have higher stress levels, it seems that high cortisol is also linked with “higher cognitive function” and now risk-taking. Successful people with high achievements tend to have high cortisol levels other studies have found.
According to the researchers, the way one becomes a night owl versus an early morning person have to do with “biology and genetic inheritance” but also “environmental factors such as shift work or child-rearing” (DailyMail).
To be fair, most of us with 9-5 jobs don’t have a choice but to be early morning risers.
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