On Being a Night Owl

Saturday, 4 November 2017


I've always had a strange relationship with sleep. When I was a kid I would patter down the stairs multiple times a night to find another form of stimulus because I couldn't sleep, it took me hours, literal hours. 

And nothing much has changed to be honest. When I was in school the early mornings were a huge problem for me because I had been going to bed really late the night before. When I was doing my GCSE's and Alevels I was revising well into the night and I have a feeling that my sleep patterns back then took a huge effect on my exams. When I moved to Uni I had no sleep schedule, literally none, but for some reason I felt more awake in lectures, I was getting loads of work done at three in the morning; more than three in the afternoon and I always felt the most productive past midnight. 

My family are the same. We're all night owls, I didn't realise how unusual feeling productive at night was until I started talking to my friends about it. They had scheduled bedtimes at about ten and woke up at seven or eight the next day, whereas I was staying up until three and waking up at ten. It was quite frustrating, especially in relationships, but I know that people can't help their sleeping habits, just like I can't help mine. 

What I've found is that if I go to bed at two and wake up at half nine, that's the best amount of sleep for me to feel great. Too much or too little and I find myself feeling like a zombie all day it's so strange. I researched this and asked a few of my psychology lecturers and it seems to be that people who are more creative appear to have more problems with sleep. This is due to an overactive mind and creative stimulus. I don't know how true this is and it probably contains a lot of limitations, but from my experience I think that it has truths to it. I always find myself with ideas just when I'm meant to be settling down. Every song I've written so far was created at three or four in the morning, it's just how I operate. 

There's this stigma around night owls I've found. That early birds or 'morning pigeons' -as I like to call them- are much more productive because they can get up at five or six and have their to-do list done by lunchtime. Especially on social media, people strive for that kind of lifestyle and for night owls like me it just seems impossible. I've tried to be a morning pigeon, throughout every year of Uni I had this supposed epiphany that if I got up earlier I'd be able to get more done. But then I wouldn't be able to sleep that night and end up back to square one. I would feel inadequate that I couldn't fit into this magical lifestyle, until I realised I don't have to and I found my perfect sleeping pattern. 

Sleep is a weird thing and it works differently for everyone. If you're a night owl or a morning pigeon it doesn't matter as long as you fit your productivity around that. I don't care that I probably wake up later than all my friends and it takes me longer to get going in the morning because you should see me at night. I think being an evening person is built into my personality and I now know that I can't change that right now, but maybe I'll grow out of it. Maybe I'll get a career that requires me to get up early and I'll find out that I can actually function at five am, things change, but sleeping schedules don't have to. 

I would love to know if you too are a night owl or one of those magical, mystical morning pigeons and how it effects your productivity. I'm currently writing this at 2am, I told you so. 

         

4 comments

  1. It frustrates me SO MUCH that people who get up early are seen as more productive, and that staying up late/getting up late instantly makes you lazy. It's such a warped perception and I so hope it changes soon. I'm a night owl too, and the only thing that helps me sleep is reading in bed, so I focus on another person's ideas rather than my own

    Steph - www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

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    1. Yep, it's part of a huge societal expectation probably goes back to the past when everyone used to get up at the crack of dawn! But for people like us it doesn't work like that. That's a good idea, distraction from thoughts is definitely one of the keys to sleep.

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  2. Very interesting read! I think we all function best/are more productive when we coordinate our tasks with our body time - did that make sense? Like, I totally understand you're very productive during the night but in my case, I function better in the morning! To each their own, I guess.

    cabin twenty-four

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    1. Definitely, everyone's going to be different and finding the pattern that works for you is essential. I agree completely, I'm glad you've found where you're best productive.

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