Yesterday, as I struggled to wrench myself out of bed to make my 9am yoga class, I was reminded of the debate between early risers and night owls.
I’ve written about the power of night before, but I still let myself feel guilty from time to time for staying up late and sleeping in. I willingly admit that the early morning is an amazing time of day, if you can get to it. I’ve flirted with the idea of becoming an early riser, possibly by making it part of the Year of the Habit.
But I’ve decided that’s a dumb idea.
I love staying up late and sleeping in. Nighttime appeals to my introverted nature: the quiet, the calm, the solitude — it comforts me. In a weird way, the night energizes me. Even if I only slept for a few hours the night before, if I make it to sundown, I’ll usually stay up far past midnight.
I suppose my relationship to nighttime is akin to a morning person’s relationship with the early hours of the day. I imagine the process of waking up energizes these people. They love having a brand new day ahead of them. (I, for one, wish they would lower their voices.)
There’s a parallel between night and day, and introversion and extroversion, which I attribute to the presence of human beings and the resulting effects on the individual.
According to a definition I agree with, extroverts get energized by being around people. It’s easiest to be surrounded by people in the middle of the day, when everyone’s rushing around trying to get things done.
Conversely, introverts find other people exhausting. I completely relate to this. If I’m in a social setting with a bunch of people with whom I’m not familiar, I can only be friendly and outgoing (or my version thereof) for so long. It’s very mentally taxing to pretend to be someone you’re not. Eventually, I’m going to need to not be there anymore. Not in a rude way, but in an “OK, that’s enough” way.
Solitude energizes the introvert, and what better time to find solitude than when the world is asleep?
Mike Vardy has a terrific article about why it doesn’t matter whether you’re an early riser or a night owl:
There is no advantage to being an early riser over being a night owl when it comes to increasing your productivity. It’s all in how you handle what comes at you – day and night – and making sure that you handle in it in a way that suits you and your lifestyle [sic]. If you find that you like getting up early, go for it. If you don’t, then don’t change that. Instead, put your efforts into making sure that your are being productive rather than when you are being more productive [sic].
So simple, yet so profound. As Mike says, “The notion that early risers are more productive than night owls is a myth.”
Exactly. It’s a myth perpetuated by social convention — the same conventions that say you need to work from 9am to 5pm to be successful, or that you need to buy a big house to be happy, or that you need 6 – 11 servings of grains a day to be healthy.
I lovingly reject all of that conventional wisdom, so why would I try and force myself to conform to the “rule” that says I need to wake up at the crack of dawn when it defies the nature of who I am?
You should read Mike’s article, because it’s spot-on. A night owl gets as much done as an early riser; he just does it at a different time of day. Neither lifestyle is right or wrong. What’s wrong is trying to force your body to do something it doesn’t want to do. You don’t force yourself into a yoga pose if your body is screaming, “NO!” That’s how injuries happen.
As long as it’s not negatively impacting other aspects of your life, I say keep whatever hours you like. Doing great stuff is more important than trying to do it when other people say you should.
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