Friday, June 15, 2012

Steps into the Light

Although not all night owls are fascinating, every fascinating person I’ve ever known has been a night owl. I had a nocturnal college professor who, after delivering engagingly detailed hourlong lectures without the aid of any notes, reportedly headed to bed right after our late morning American Lit. class ended.

I like being up and out late too. After-hours antics feel more natural. But when I do have to get up early because of my day job, or travel plans, or weekend breakfast/brunch summits, I get more done throughout the rest of the day.

Lately I’ve been forcing myself to wake up much earlier than I need to, mostly just to see what it’s like. How wholesome are these early birds for real?

5:30 a.m. I open the windows and hear the birds belting out not-half-bad arias, and alarm clocks in the building next door going off at 6:00 and 6:30 and 7:00. I don’t know if my mind works better at this hour, but it definitely works differently. New thought patterns and perspectives are internally popping off, even before I have food and caffeine in me, and they’re helping me get valuable creative work done before 8 a.m.

Still, until I become a mother, there’s no chance of this happening every day. That’s a caffeine-free promise.

From what I’ve seen, when the mainstream media takes up this topic the typical research-based subtext is that early rising is the superior state – if night owls reconfigure themselves into morning people, their moods and outcomes will change for the better. Diurnal propaganda.

I’ll only be reprogrammed so much. But my joining forces with the tweety birds a couple of days a week won’t do anyone any harm. 


  1. I think I must be the weirdest person on earth. Thing is, if I didn't have to sleep, I never would! I am an early bird - especially so in Summer. I love getting up early. And I'm also a night owl, rarely going to bed before midnight. When I was younger I often went to bed at 3am and got up at 5am. And I wouldn't even nap in the afternoon. In fact, I rarely ever slept unless I really HAD to ;P

  2. Every once in a rare while, I'll get up and go to the gym around 5:30. You're right. I feel fantastic for the rest of the day. I do not however feel fantastic when my alarm goes off that early...

  3. I've always been a night owl. There's even a note in my baby book that I only wanted to sleep during the day. Unfortunately, I'm on a new doctor-ordered regimen that has me going to be between 10 and 11 each night. That's been a tough switch. I'm doing okay now, but I'm sure I could go back to the old way very quickly if I quit working at it.

    I'm suspicious of natural morning people. I'm pretty sure they're planning something. Hopefully, I'll just sleep through it.

    Thanks for sharing. Stopping by from SITS. Have a great weekend.

  4. I think most writers are creatures of the night. Goes with the territory.

  5. I've been a night-owl (worked midnight shifts, kinda had to be), and I've been an early-riser (again, career-related strictures)... and for me, the enjoyment of whatever schedule I keep seems to have more to do with volition than what time it is.

    I hate working midnight shifts, where I'm forced to stay alert and functioning until past sunrise... but I love staying up until 3 or 4 AM watching old movies.

    I hate the alarm clock ringing at 5AM, forcing me up and out the door before my coffee kicks in... but I love waking up early on a beautiful spring morning, and wandering outside to visit with my birds and my flowers before the rest of the neighborhood wakes up and starts their mowers/blowers/chainsaws/mouths.

    I think my body and my mind appreciate the beauties of late and early alike, but they like to pick and choose on their own.

  6. As someone who hasn't slept past 7:00 AM since 2008 (motherhood - who needs an alarm clock?!), I definitely find a lot of merits in being up early. I find I can knock out my to-do list than if I slept later. You feel more accomplished by noon, that's for sure.

  7. Oh I love the early morning! There is just something about getting a head start on the day that is inspiring! Of course I like it better when I wake up early on my own, than having the alarm clock sound. Hope you enjoy your morning!

  8. I am a night Owl as is The Big One. My mom is not. she gets so mad at me when she calls and im still sleeping half the time its only like 9. grr. she doesnt understand we have different sleep patterns. oh the off chance ok I do work during the school year, thankfully its only half day so I can take a nap lol