Some of you may know that I’m the worst morning person on the face of the Earth. Some of you may also know that I’ve been trying to change this. I’ve never been proud about being one of the night owls, but it’s time to change that.
After reading about the amazing benefits of yoga in the morning, going running, meditating, getting the house to yourself, having a full breakfast at 5 a.m. (BARF!), and blah blah blah, I was convinced that being an early riser was the only way to go. I researched ways to get up earlier in the morning and tried to follow the rules.
The first week wasn’t awesome, but it was ok. This second week, however, was very weird. Due to a number of projects and musical gigs, I found myself going to bed between 1 and 2 a.m. and waking up between 9 and 10. And the surprising results of this have really made me ask myself a few questions.
Is getting up early all it’s cracked up to be? Does the early bird really get the worm (and why would you want the worm in the first place anyway)? Are night owls so unproductive?
What I found out by having this unusual schedule is that I have so much more energy during the day. I know I’ve always been a night owl (my mum used to tell me she couldn’t get me to sleep at all as a baby unless it was past midnight), but I thought that if I could just manage to be an early riser, my energy levels would fix themselves. I’ve been waking up early for the last few years and feeling so tired and fatigued all the time, and this is almost gone now. I had no idea fighting your natural clock could have such dramatic results!
So I did some extra research based on what I experienced this week. Here’s why night owls are actually quite awesome
Night Owls are Just as Successful as Early Birds
There’s plenty of examples of successful night owls. Bob Dylan. President Obama. J.R.R Tolkien. Who says you have to be productive in the morning to be productive at all? Productivity is productivity, whether it happens in the morning or at night.
I love to sleep in, and I’m guessing quite a few others (including those mentioned above) love it too. Now, if you’re an early bird, you’re probably thinking something along the lines of: you lazy slacker! What are you doing with your life?!
I reject such moral superiority and refuse to be judged. Besides, if you’re sleeping 8 hours anyway, what’s the difference? Does it really make a difference if I go to bed at 1 a.m. and wake up at 9 a.m compared to going to bed at 10 p.m. and getting up at 6? The way I see it, it’s still 8 hours of sleep, and there’s no way I’m settling for less on a regular basis.
The Night Fosters Creativity
If you’re a writer or other creative individual, the night is the perfect time for quiet and concentration. Everyone else is asleep and we’re free to work in peace. Except it’s actually real peace because it’s the end of the day and after that there’s just sleep.
Working at 5 a.m. makes me really anxious, because there’s the whole day ahead. I’d just be worrying about everything I need to do during the day. On the other hand, knowing the day is over just allows me to relax and focus.
Besides, night time inspiration is just such a romantic notion.
An Unnatural Schedule is Counterproductive
Sigh. Our society works in the a.m., and we all have to adapt to that. Get up people! Commute! Work! And all of this has to happen early because the morning is just better than any other part of the day! Or so we think…
Obviously, if we have a traditional job, we have to adapt our own circadian rhythms to our work schedules. This can be really counterproductive. I taught in a school for a few years; in hindsight, a terrible idea if you’re not a morning person. The result was that I never got enough sleep and definitely couldn’t answer any schoolwork or homework related questions before 9 a.m. I was a zombie. I think my brain went on autopilot and grunted something in response to my students’ questions. 90% of the time I had no idea what I said to them (shhhhh don’t tell anyone)!
Catch me at 9 p.m., however, and it’s a totally different story! I think I just might try to shift my line of work from now on and find something that allows me to sleep in a little more, seeing as this ends up changing the feel and mood of my whole day.
Don’t Fight Yourself!
Ultimately, I think that it’s not about when you go to sleep or when you wake up. It’s about how you use the time you have when you’re actually awake. If you wake up at 5 a.m. but then spend three hours in the evening watching reruns of Friends, you’re not exactly the definition of productive (as much as I actually love Friends). Let’s not even mention the continuous electronic distractions we’re subject to every single day.
If you’re still unsure about what I’m saying and would rather be an early bird than a night owl, get this: apparently, we inherit our varying sleep patterns from our cavemen hunter-gatherer ancestors. Someone had to stay awake to scare away the predators. I guess my great-great-great-homo-
sapiens-ancestor was a nightwatchman and I got those genes. Studies have even shown that night owls and early risers have different brain structures.
As long as you work smart, it doesn’t really matter when you work. Besides, you can’t really argue with DNA…right? Once a night owl, always a night owl!