Insomnia and IQ


To understand whether there is a correlation between IQ and insomnia, and to quantify that by a statement that might state this: "Studies show that IQ has a % correlation to insomnia." If no such statement exists, then to understand the overall landscape of the debate online and to find out if this is even a discussion.

Early Findings

  • A study using CBS Trials has provided a look into the biological basis of intelligence. Sleep spindles, which are short neural oscillations that occur during non-rapid eye movement sleep, have previously been linked to IQ test performance. The new study, by Fang, Sergeeva, Ray, Viczko, Owen, and Fogel, published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, sought to answer these questions. They had participants sleep in a lab while physiological data was recorded, including measures of sleep quality and characteristics of sleep spindles. The results suggest that there is a deep connection between these particular squiggles of brain activity during sleep and “fluid intelligence,” as measured by high reasoning ability.
  • Dr. Rachel Salas, an assistant professor of neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and her colleagues studied how plastic, or adaptable, the brains of 18 insomniacs and 10 good sleepers were, using a technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation. The insomniacs showed enhanced brain activity compared to good sleepers. In fact, those with insomnia showed more plasticity in picking up the new task.
  • Over the past few decades, there’s a growing body of research on the relationship between sleep patterns and intelligence. One study of U.S. Air Force recruits aimed to systematically explore the relationship between intelligence and sleep scheduling. After evaluating the 420 participants, they figured out that night owls are more likely to have higher intelligence scores. An assumption must be made here that night owls could be suffering from insomnia.
  • Satoshi Kanazawa and Kaja Perinawas conducted a study called “Why night owls are more intelligent,” in 2009. He and his team came to the conclusion that, “more intelligent children are more likely to grow up to be nocturnal adults who go to bed late and wake up late on both weekdays and weekends.” They analyzed the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and used that to explain why that’s the case.
  • One team of scientists from The University of Chicago and Northwestern University analyzed GMAT scores from MBA students in 2014. They discovered that GMAT scores were significantly higher among night owls than among early-morning types for both men and women.
  • "According to Coren, scores on intelligence tests decline cumulatively on each successive day that you sleep less than you normally sleep. The daily decline is approximately one IQ point for the first hour of sleep loss, two for the next, and four for the next. After five successive days of sleeping less than you need, your IQ can be lowered by up to 15 points. This means that a person of normal intelligence could have an effective IQ of only 85, the level at which you would need special education in order to learn. Even a very ‘bright’ person (IQ of 120 plus) can be reduced to robotic thinking, as though on automatic pilot."
  • The performance gap caused by an hour’s difference in sleep was bigger than the gap between a normal fourth-grader and a normal sixth-grader. Which is another way of saying that a slightly-sleepy sixth-grader will perform in class like a mere fourth-grader. "A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development."
  • In addition to this public search, we scanned our proprietary research database of over 1 million sources and were unable to find any specific research reports that address your exact goals.

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