“Go to bed!” my mom would sternly whisper in middle school when she caught me reading in bed with a flashlight hours past my bedtime. It wasn’t just that I was too engrossed to notice time and put the book down (we all know that lovely feeling), but that, even as a kid, I loved to stay up late. Being awake after the world has settled in for the evening is peaceful and lovely in my town. It’s quiet, save for the crickets and occasional distant freight train whistle on the other side of my hometown. There seemed to be something magical about it.
Now I attribute my night owl nature more to needing a few hours of quiet to separate myself from the rest of the day. The kind of quiet that only comes long after most other people have gone to sleep. I’m just not a morning person, but I’m definitely an evening one. I feel a kinship with other night owls: Our daily routine varies a bit more than our counterparts the early risers. Here are some of the things that only make sense to us night owls.
Getting a second wind after 10 p.m.
At an hour that most people are settling down and watching the news before calling it a night, we feel a surge of energy. To do what? Depends on the individual night owl. I have a friend who will suddenly get the itch to go dancing at 10:30 on a weeknight whereas I’d probably go see a late movie or go get a cocktail or ice cream. Or an ice cream cocktail! (A girl can dream.)
The glory of the midnight snack
Speaking of ice cream…sometimes I’ll be up late working and realize that I have so much more to do, I’m going to need a snack in order to stay on task. It’s always important that I stock a variety of potential snacks for these moments. Sometimes it’s chocolate covered pretzels. Sometimes it’s carrot sticks. Other times I invite Ben & Jerry to the midnight snack party. There’s a saying: “If we weren’t supposed to have midnight snacks, why is there a light in the refrigerator?” I couldn’t agree more.
Being weirdly productive when most people are snoozing
I am at my most productive and most diligent in the wee hours because I don’t have any other distractions. For the most part, my phone isn’t ringing (and if you’re calling/texting me at 2am without having an emergency or seriously dating me, I’m not answering anyway). It’s just me and my work and I get to catch up on emails that get lost in the shuffle during the day. In a way it makes me feel like I’m getting a head start on the next day without having to wake up at 5 a.m. (See, that’s for early risers)
Eating breakfast for dinner
I know, I know. Anyone can have breakfast for dinner. But if you’re about to spend hours working or hanging out into the night, it’s a meal that also signifies the beginning of “our time” as night owls, and one of the few things we share with morning people. Plus it’s fun and easy to make. I started a tradition of making breakfast for dinner in college to combat my frustration that I was never up early enough to have it before the dining hall (and McDonalds!) stopped serving it.
Cute pajamas are not just for bed
The way that we all can go a little overboard with our shoe and bag collection, I tend to do the same with pajamas. I have sweats, long button down shirts, satin nightgowns, shorts, tanks, t-shirts and something that might actually be a swimsuit cover-up but is incredibly soft, so oh well. Especially when I’m sitting down to do some work, I like to slip into something that makes me feel good even if I’m the only one who’s going to see it. I once dated an insomniac, and not only were we crazy compatible, we were sometimes more spiffily dressed for evenings staying up late at home than dinners out.
Decompressing in the wee hours to sleep better when we finally do
Besides productivity increasing, sometimes late at night is the best time to simply take a moment and breathe. Without anything cluttering our thoughts, are we happy, sad, stressed, anxious, irritable? And why? What can be done to alleviate any negative energy and bring it back to a positive place before going to bed and not allowing our mental well being to fall to the wayside again the next day in the rush of daily life? This is the best time for me to get to a less stressful place in order to sleep well when I decide I’m ready to turn out the light.
Keeping in touch with friends in different time zones is actually way easier
I travel a reasonable amount and as a result now have friends all over the globe. The tough part? Syncing up when we can chat or catch up because of work schedules and time differences. It is much easier for me to schedule a quick convo with friends in London at 2am my time before going to bed while they are first getting up for the day. There’s something especially neat to signing off of Skype with them by wishing them a great day while they in turn tell you to sleep well and have sweet dreams.
A study done by “Psychology Today” gets trotted out every few years, noting that night owls are more intelligent and indulge in life more than the early riser. I don’t know how much I can buy into that, even though it’s convenient for me to believe it. We’re all different and structure our days and nights to best fit our lifestyles and needs.
But if you’ve never had a midnight snack? I highly recommend it.