February 13, 2009

Are You A Night Owl?

It’s midnight and your brain is more fired up than ever. Should you go to bed?

I’ve been trying to answer this question for at least 10 years. As far back as I can remember I have stayed up late, often past 1 AM. I even moved to Hawaii, which is 5 or 6 hours behind. What happened? My sleep schedule caught up with me and I still slept during the day. Weird…

I can still remember when I had an early morning shift at a factory. I would often stay up until 1 and then sleep for a few hours before having to go to work all day. It was brutal…

It seems like all my life I have been in a constant struggle against society. Just about everything we do is setup on a typical 8 – 5 schedule. In college my classes often started at 8 and every job I ever had started before 9. Heck, even some stores open early and close before 7 PM. It makes it pretty difficult for night owls like myself.

So Long Schedule…

When I quit my job last October, I no longer had a set schedule to follow. I was used to getting up around 7 AM but I still hated it. So for the first few months after quitting, I tried to set an alarm and stick to a typical schedule. I would get up around 8 or 9 and start working. I tried my best to call it a night before 11.

However, there was just no way I could force myself to stick to that schedule. It made me realize that sleeping habits cannot be changed as easy as people may think. Even after 2 months of trying. For some odd reason my body wants to stay up at night, especially my mind.

The Last Month

Over the last 30 days or so, I have become even more of a night owl. Just the other day I went to bed AFTER my girlfriends alarm went off. It was around 5 AM and I finally called it a night. I slept until 1 and felt great when I woke up. Yet for some reason I felt lazy because I “slept in.”

The weird thing I have noticed is that I become more and more creative (and productive) after midnight. I start getting projects done like there is no tomorrow. Not to mention the quality of my work increases. I can get 10x more stuff done after midnight than I would a whole day working 8 – 5.

Night Owls Are More Creative

I remember reading a study a few years ago that said night owls are more creative. They said it has to do with thinking outside the norm. I’m pretty sure there is some fact to that study. Especially after looking back at the amount of stuff I have been getting done late at night.

I did some research and found these interesting articles about staying up late:

After reading all of those articles, I feel pretty good about staying up late. I really don’t see any reason to change my sleeping habits. Just remember, email me at night if you want to get a hold of me.

Are you a night owl? Do you get more stuff done at night?

Photo Credit: Zest-pk

24 thoughts on “Are You A Night Owl?

  1. BenSpark

    I read somewhere that the human body is built for two 4 hour sleep cycles a day rather than the traditional and “normal” 8 hour sleep night. It must be great to be able to make your own schedule like that.

  2. LisaNewton

    I’m almost always been a morning person, up today at 5:30am. I think sleep patterns are very individualized, so nature plays a large part in how long and when we sleep.

    My kids used to ask me, “Don’t you ever sleep in?” I said, “Hey, I didn’t get up until 6:00am. I did sleep in.”

    Now, one of my daughters is just like me and the other three prefer to be night owls, but they’re still in school, so who knows, they might still follow in their mother’s footsteps……………….:)

  3. Jim Gaudet

    “I can get 10x more stuff done after midnight than I would a whole day working 8 – 5.”

    I find this to be true. I have sort of the same problem, I stay up until 1 to 3 most nights, but I am also an early bird. I always get up before 8, most times at 6am.

    I think the reason that I can work better at night is because there is less “noise”. I mean, no IMs from my friends, no emails.. So I have focus time, and that’s when the creativeness comes in..

  4. Jake

    I do all of my big reports for school at night. I can just get more done. I hate waking up in the mornings too… Afternoon classes are way better!

  5. Carla

    I am definitely a night owl, but for health reasons I need at LEAST eight hours of sleep – no exceptions. Unfortunately, I still have a day job so I cant set my schedule.

  6. LBUG.tv

    Hey, me too. Society makes you feel guilty for it, and doesn’t really accommodate it, but it’s only when the rest of the world is asleep that I feel relaxed enough to really get something done.

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  8. jTerrell

    great post. i’m totally a night owl. i get more done between the hours of 12a and 8a. it’s 2:47a vegas time and i’m going strong. i just left my 9-5 a few weeks back and hated getting up at 9a.

  9. Andrew

    Well, I am not quite a night owl. I usually force myself to get up early – that’s when I need to go to classes at University or when I want to do some work. There are times when I would stay up late, but then the next day there’s this strange feeling and guilty feeling that everybody’s already up and working, and you’re just eating breakfast…

  10. Linda Montgomery

    I am a night owl so is my father and my son. It totally runs in the family. I have spent money on sun lamps and sleeping aides. Nothing works. My 17 year old son did the cortisol spit test and he registered a spike that went off the charts at 5PM. Your highest peak in cortisol should be in the AM when you wake up and then you should dwindle through the day in cortisol, until you have very little by evening, so you can sleep. He registered very low in the AM and his late in the day spike was like a flight from fright response, and they don’t know why. He is trying some natural supplements that eat up the excess cortisol. So there is a chemical reason to our sleep patterns. I have to admit when I give up fighting and just let my body do what it wants, which is sleep from 4AM-noon, my body and mind seem the happiest. Maybe my son and I should just give in.

    1. Shannon

      Runs in my family too although I’m the real odd duck who stays up till 3am-5am. Unfortunately I need 9 hours of sleep now to feel good. When my boys were babies I couldn’t get them down til 11pm so I would stay up late just to have time for myself and get some work done. I’m an old fart now, who has gone back to college, and have been lucky each semester so far to only have one or 2 morning classes. I can’t sleep the night before a morning class-even with the aid of sleeping pills. 20 more months to go and keep praying for those afternoon and evening classes. I’m taking graphic art and digital media design and do my best work after midnight. Now if I can only find an employer who will work with my hours when I graduate! I’ve proven to myself a few times that I’m not cut out for self-employment – unless I had a non-creative partner to take care of the boring work. LOL There should be a dating website for nightowls. There’s another problem area – finding someone who will sleep with you who doesn’t make you feel guilty for sleeping all morning! Any takers??

  11. Harley

    It is getting close to bedtime for me. I sleep best from about 4 am to 10 am. It sucks when I have been asleep for an hour or so and the neighborhood starts waking up and making enough racket to wake the dead (a.k.a. me). I am a lot more considerate at 1 am.

    1. Jim Gaudet

      @Harley – Wouldn’t it be nice if early birds would think about night owls as night owls think about early birds? But, sadly it will probably never happen.

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  15. Gary Wilmot

    Wow, as I read that article I kept thinking “when did I write this?” I recently spent a few weeks, deliberately, as an Early Bird. Productivity took a nose-dive, I felt permanently jet-lagged and I just couldn’t fit my schedule into the new timeframe.

    So I went back to my normal routine; programming or writing until 2am, 3am or even 5am, getting up for the day job and power napping during the 45 minute bus ride to and from the office.

    Within 48 hours, my inbox was back under control, web sites were put live, and the “lightbulb moment” flashes of inspiration started to re-appear.

    Embrace nocturnalism!

  16. Joseph Bishop

    In the day time I feel like watching tv youtube and doing nothing. But by night I am whizzing away creating stuff.

  17. Sparky

    I find I am most productive in both the morning and evening on a normal schedule, while the afternoon is the least productive, I just want to nap during that time. I’ve always been a night owl, as far as staying awake until 1-2pm the next day. It’s difficult to establish a daily sleep pattern for work and school. I think the best solution for night owls who must get up early is polyphasic sleep–either biphasic or triphasic(uberman or dymaxion will wreck your circadian rythms).

    Also, be careful not to place yourself into a box with the “I can get 10x more stuff done after midnight than I would a whole day working 8 – 5.” You can be productive at any hour of the day, trust me. It just depends on when you’re waking up and going to sleep. That sort of thing can also depend on what exactly it is you are working on. Working on things that require creative logic seem to flow better in the day, while visual creativity is heightened after dark.

  18. Tousif Iqbal

    well i really don no whether am creative or not. but i find myself quite better working @ night. moreover even if don ve any work, i just want to stay awake late, don no wat the problem is. all the things u mentioned in ur article are almost same with me. da only thing am missing here is, at times i jus want to stay alone rather than with a company. is it the same with u or am i facing yet another disorder?


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