It’s one of those endless debates among medical students, is it better to study at  night or during the day?  Everyone things they know what the best time to study is, but each person is different and there is no clear winner from a scientific point of view. There are some students who get more out of studying at night while other find the best time to study to be the morning or the afternoon.

Benefits during the night…

  • At night there are fewer distractions than during the day. Most of your friends are asleep and your social networks will be less active
  • It is true that things look different by night. The night can increase your creative efficacy and help you see concepts differently
  • If you’re lucky enough to live near a library that’s open late, you will notice that the library is near deserted when you want to study late
  • People are more active, louder and intense during the day. At night it’s only you and the night owls so you can study in peace and quiet

Benefits during the day…

  • After a good nights sleep, you’ll likely have more energy and a higher ability to concentrate the next day
  • Society is structured around being active during the day and sleeping at night, so by sticking to this norm there are undeniable benefits such as being able to go to the library, coffee shop or book shop
  • Most people are contactable during the day so it’s easier to communicate with your friends or teachers
  •  Natural light is better for your eyes. Artificial light hurts our eyes and can affect our natural sleep rhythm

Research indicates that people who stay up late are at higher risk for depression. Studies have also shown night owls more prone to more significant tobacco and alcohol use, as well as inclined to eating more, and also less healthful diets than early risers or people with intermediate sleep patterns.

Some studies have shown that people who stay up late are more productive than early risers, and have more stamina throughout the length of their days. Other research has shown that night owls display greater reasoning and analytical abilities than their earlier-to-bed counterparts. Stay-up-late types, according to research, achieve greater financial and professional success on average than those people with earlier bedtimes and wake times.

New research has now found evidence of physical differences in the brains of different chronotypes. Scientists at Germany’s Aachen University conducted brain scans of early birds, night owls, and “intermediate” chronotypes who fell in between the two ends of the spectrum. They discovered structural differences in the brains of people with different sleep-wake tendencies.

Researchers observed a group of 59 men and women of different chronotypes: 16 were early risers, 20 were intermediate sleepers, and 23 were night owls. They found that compared to early risers and intermediates, night owls showed reduced integrity of white matter in several areas of the brain. White matter is fatty tissue in the brain that facilitates communication among nerve cells. Diminished integrity of the brain’s white matter has been linked to depression and to disruptions of normal cognitive function.

We’re learning that these night owl and day birds tendencies are driven by some significant degree by biological and genetic forces. Different chronotypes are associated with genetic variations, as well as differences in lifestyle and mood disposition, cognitive function and risks for health problems, including sleep disorders and depression.