Scientists Discover Some of Us Are Lazy All Day Long

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A bear lies on an artificial stone in a zoo in Warsaw March 9, 2009.
Photo: Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters/Corbis

So there are early birds, the people who are at their most energetic in the morning. And then there are night owls, whose brains don’t seem to fully turn on until the evening. But what if you’ve never fully identified with either camp? A new study in the January edition of Personality and Individual Differences identifies two new categories of wakefulness: Some people feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed no matter what time it is, while others feel lethargic all day long. 

Sleep scientists in Russia write that they discovered this after bringing 130 healthy people to a sleep lab and keeping them awake for 24 hours. While they were there, they were periodically asked to fill out surveys about how peppy or lazy they were currently feeling; the surveys also asked questions about the previous week’s sleep habits and energy patterns. Twenty-nine of the participants reported more energy in the mornings, and 44 of them were most alert in the evenings. But two other types emerged: 25 individuals who said they felt alert in the mornings and evenings, and 32 more who never felt very awake.

A caveat here: The researchers are relying on the participants’ subjective opinion of their energy levels, instead of testing the subjects’ alertness throughout the day. (Also, if you keep people awake for 24 hours, I would expect they’d start to feel pretty lethargic as the hours go by.) Still, it’s an interesting bit of research for those of us who feel lazy all day long; it’s about time science recognized our existence. (And a quick hat-tip to Christian Jarrett at the British Psychological Society’s Research Digest for spotting this paper!)