I am most productive between the hours of midnight and 2 AM. It sounds crazy, because that is when most people are asleep. But, I’m a night owl. Always have been.
Of course, because I stay up late and sleep late, I have also been called lazy and accused of living in a fantasy world. I’m not denying the veracity of these claims, but neither has anything to do with my sleeping schedule. I’m lazy because, sometimes, I just don’t want to do things. And I live in a fantasy world because it’s preferable to reality.
It’s cool. They know me here.
This killed me during high school when I had to get up at 5:30 every weekday morning. And the fact that I was taking multiple AP-level classes didn’t help matters, since most days that required hours of after-school dedication. I would regularly pass out by 9:30 at night. But, even though I was technically getting plenty of sleep, I still never felt like I was functioning optimally. When weekends rolled around and I slept later and stayed up longer, I felt more “me.”
I held a traditional job for 2 years after college. I woke up at 7:30-ish and was usually down by 11:30. Better, but, even when I was exhausted, I found myself not just willing to stay up past my circumstance-imposed bedtime, but unable not to. For no reason whatsoever, I function better if I am able to maintain a later sleep schedule.
Take this post for example. As I write, it is 11 pm. I could have been writing this all afternoon, but I couldn’t motivate myself to do so. Yet, as the clock ticks closer to midnight, I feel not only motivated, but moved to get some work done.
Night owls are generally more creative – and creative people are most often night owls. And recent studies show that night owls are more intelligent than early risers.
Even though science can explain why night owls are the way we are, I don’t really “do” science, so let me tell you why I think it works for me.
The night time is my time. When I’m the only one awake in my house, I can focus my attention in the direction of my choice, without feeling like I have to save a slice of my consciousness for others. When I’m being creative – really creative – I can become non-communicative. I get inside my own head, and stay there.
I value the silence. Late at night, I don’t have to worry about filtering other conversations and ambient noise. But, I can watch what I want on television, or listen to my choice of music, or just listen to the quiet.
I feel more energized during the dark of night, more interested in doing the things I enjoy. Unfortunately, the world bases ideas of productivity on what is accomplished while the sun is up. Even people working the third shift jobs that make the world turn simply aren’t given the respect of the 9 to 5 majority.
I – and most night owls – can survive a 9 to 5 regimen. But just surviving is hardly worth it.