It has long been held that the early bird catches the worm. But it is the night owl that lasts the distance, research shows.
It found that late risers tire less quickly than those who make a point of getting up at the crack of dawn.
The study is likely to be embraced by anyone tired of being branded lazy for their love of a lie-in.
And it adds to growing evidence that it is night owls that rule the roost.
Previous studies have found that those who rise later tend to be both cleverer and richer than early birds.
For the latest study, scientists pitted morning larks against night owls in a task designed to measure their reaction and attention times.
During the experiment, the volunteers got up and went to bed at their usual times, with the larks tending to turn in four hours earlier than the owls.
Both did similarly well at the task shortly after getting up. But ten hours into their day, it was the night owls that shone, being both quicker and more alert at the task, the journal Science reports.
Despite being awake for the same length of time, the larks felt sleepier, with scans showing that the parts of their brains linked to attention were less active.
Dr Philippe Peigneux, of the University of Liege in Belgium, said: 'During the evening session, evening types were less sleepy and tended to perform faster than morning types.'
Previous studies have shown that getting up late appears to be in our DNA, with our body clock regulated by a series of genes which determine whether we are larks or owls.
Other studies have debunked the popular saying 'early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise'.
Night owls have been shown to be cleverer than larks, with quicker minds and better memories. They also earn more.
Famous night owls include Charles Darwin, Adolf Hitler and Winston Churchill, who regularly went to bed at 4am and rose late. Due to his sleeping patterns, he often hosted War Cabinet meetings in his bath.
It is thought that the division into larks and owls has its roots in evolution, with early risers in the Stone Age taking the initiative in food gathering, while owls stood guard late into the night.
Those who fell into neither category could sleep safely in the knowledge that their needs were being taken care of.
When humans moved towards tending animals and harvesting crops, larks came in demand for the early starts, while owls started to be thought of as less industrious.