Do you ever find yourself struggling to complete your tasks (or even continue working) come late afternoon or early evening, after powering through your to-do list all day? You’re not alone.
Turns out, there’s science behind that familiar brain fatigue that creeps in as the sun starts to go down.
According to new study, your decision-making skills become sloppier and less accurate toward the end of the day—regardless of whether you consider yourself a morning or night person, the Association for Psychological Science reports in its Minds for Business blog.
The study looked at around 100 online chess players—who have to make constant decisions—and had them fill out a questionnaire about their sleeping and eating habits, and their typical wake-up times (AKA whether they’re early-rising “larks” or late-night-loving “owls,” or somewhere in between).
The researchers hypothesized that each player would perform better based on his chronotype (in other words, if he’s an owl or a lark). Surprisingly, however, that wasn’t the case.
While both chronotypes played more games at the time of day when they were mentally peaking, they shared a similar pattern regardless: They engaged in faster decision-making later in the day, compared to slower and more accurate choices in the morning hours.
“We found that players changed their decision-making policy throughout the day: Players decide faster and less accurately as the day progresses, reaching a plateau early in the afternoon,” the researchers wrote. Anyone else setting their alarm for an earlier time tomorrow?
The best part of waking up? “Shroom shake” in your cup—try this recipe for what may be the world’s healthiest blended coffee drink. And if you’re looking for more ways to increase productivity, try tackling your to-do list on Saturday instead of Sunday.