Karl the Curmudgeon Stays Up Late to Get Smarter

I'm fading fast tonight, I said. I don't think I can keep my eyes open much longer.

"You bailing out on me, Kid? What a lightweight!" said Karl. We were sitting at First Editions, our favorite literary-themed bar, at a friend's book launch. The subject was a little boring, and I'd had a long day.

I'm just worn out, I said. I had to get up early this morning, and I've been on the go all day.

"And you're tired now? It's not even 9:00," said Karl. "Guess that means I'm smarter than you."

On what planet? I asked. And how does me being tired at — I looked at my watch — 8:42 make you smarter than me?

"I just read a study that people who stay up late are more likely to be smarter than people who go to bed early."

What study is that? The What BS Nonsense Will Karl Make Up This Week study?

"No. This is a peer-reviewed study published in a scientific journal called 'Personality and Individual Differences."

Haven't you heard? We don't do science in this country anymore.

"Yeah, well, this is a study from the UK called 'Why Night Owls Are More Intelligent—'"

I notice you had to write it down.

"Shut up, Kid. Anyway, the study found that people who went to bed later tended to have higher IQs than people went to bed earlier."

Seriously? I mean, I've heard about those other studies that say people who are unorganized are intelligent or people who swear more tend to be more intelligent. But this is the first time I ever heard about sleep patterns being an indicator of intelligence.

"There was another study from the University of Madrid that said people who stayed up late tended to be wealthier too," said Karl.

Seriously? How?

"Well, they didn't actually have more money. Rather, they showed the levels of intelligence that people with prestigious jobs and higher incomes have."

How does that even work?

"It all has to do with evolution. Our pre-historic ancestors would go to bed early and get up early, usually with the sun. But if you were able to change your sleeping patterns, it meant you were able to adapt to modern life."

So, like staying up to watch Netflix while everyone else was tired out from hunting mastodons?

"Something like that. The researchers also found that children who stay up later are also likely to grow into intelligent adults."

That's assuming they were smart children to begin with.


I mean, I've met some pretty dumb kids in my day, and I don't think staying up until 3:00 a.m. on a school night is going to amp up the smart juice.

"They didn't—"

Although I did go to bed at 9:00 p.m. all throughout high school, and I could never crack a B average. But in college, I never went to bed before 1:00 a.m., and I was in the Honors College. I even went to grad school.

"But that's not—"

I think you may be on to something, Karl! I think you may have found the Fountain of Intelligence!

"Kid, that's not what the study said!"

Are you sure? What time did you go to bed last night? Is this supposed to be a temporary effect? Can I give myself a boost if I take a nap, or does that cause my new powers to take a dip?

"New powers? What are you talking about? This isn't a comic book."

What happens if I stay up all night? Does that make me Einstein smart? Ooh, would it make me rich?! Would I get rich all at once, or would the money just trickle in? Also, is it cumulative? Do I get smarter and richer each day, or does it dip when I sleep and staying up late just refills the tank?

"Dammit, Kid, now you're just playing around!"

I stared at Karl. Well, yeah, I said. I drained the rest of my beer. I wasn't so sure I wanted to go home anymore. This was fun.

So, how much later? I finally asked. How much later do the smart ones go to bed?

"Uh, it didn't say."

Seriously? A peer-reviewed scientific article, and they didn't discuss the methodology or the data? They just said 'smart people stay up late' and that was it?

"Well, uh. . ."

You didn't read it, did you?

"Yes, I did!"

You didn't read it at all, did you?

"Well," said Karl, "I read about it."

You read about it in the newspaper, didn't you? I said.

"Well. . ."

I know you did, you fraud, because I read the same article! It was the London Daily Mail. I know, because I forwarded the article to you!

"Fine! Fine, I just skimmed it. And I forgot where I read it. Are you happy? You win!" Karl waved down Kurt, our bartender, and signaled for two more beers. "Put them on his tab," he told Kurt. "He's smarter than we are."

You got that right, I said.

"I guess I've got to get up pretty early to fool you." Karl took a big drink of his new beer.

No, you'd better stay up all night.

You can find my books Branding Yourself (affiliate link), No Bullshit Social Media, and The Owned Media Doctrine on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Books-A-Million, or for the Kindle or Nook.