Charlotte B
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Night Owls

Night Owls

Apr 05, 2020

I'm far from the only night owl in the world, that's for sure. But I feel like, with the current situation in the world, many of us are probably learning more about our bodies' natural rhythms, no longer constrained by office hours and morning alarms.

I've always been bad in the mornings, anyone who knows me will verify that. My brain struggles to function at all in the AM, and needs a healthy serving of coffee no matter what time I wake up, be it 9am or 2pm. But because of the way that society functions, I've always had to get up in the mornings, be it for school, university, or work. My tour guiding job (the one on hold right now) means my earliest start for the last couple of years has involved an 8.30am wake up (the average being 9.30am), a welcome relief after getting up at 6am daily for previous jobs.

But now, without that routine, it turns out my natural wake up time is closer to midday - and I'm going to bed around 3am most nights. I mean, I'm sitting here typing this at 11pm at night, that should tell you quite a lot. Now, I'm definitely not fully nocturnal yet, as I know some people are these days! But it's certainly interesting for me to see when I'm most alert and productive and functioning best, when I allow my body to fall into its natural rhythm.

Even when I wake up at midday, I don't do anything very productive until more like 3-4pm. I told you, I'm not good first thing in the 'morning', which for me is now early afternoon time! My most productive window is around 4-10pm, give or take, once I'm more alert, and before I start to wind down again. And I don't just mean that in terms of creative output, when I do the most writing. It's also when I do yoga, meditate, read, edit photos, or do anything else along those lines. Early afternoon and late night is mostly for games or TV, the stuff that requires far less brain power.

For years, my parents told me to not sleep in so late, as it was lazy and wasting the day. But if I can still accomplish everything in the space of a day, albeit 4-5 hours later than a 'normal' schedule, then what's wrong with that? The only time I ever willingly get up early is for day trips or hikes etc, activities that require daylight. But those aren't options at the moment, so I don't feel like I'm wasting any of my time - indeed, like most people, I have plenty of time to spare at the moment! - so I'm just choosing which hours I prefer.

Yes, it's true that the 'normal' human daily rhythm is largely dictated by the sunlight - but our society also leans in to that, in terms of working and school hours and such. Which makes life just that little bit more of a struggle for us night owls. Luckily, we live in a time where more and more of us are self-employed or freelance, or have flexible working hours of some sort, so many of us can choose to work later in the day, if we so wish.

I have that with my usual work to a certain extent, and have been grateful for later-than-average wake up times. But usually I do work mostly in the day, and am so tired by the evenings that I'm not very productive in terms of my writing or other hobbies. So firstly, discovering now that my natural rhythm is even later than that is quite fascinating, and without work taking up all my energy, I am being even more productive with my evenings than before.

So who cares if I'm not going to bed until the wee hours of the morning? Who cares that I rarely rise again before noon? I'm sleeping enough, and I'm utilising the time I am awake. I'm going to hate setting alarms again whenever things eventually returns to normal, but for now, I'm embracing life as a night owl!

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