No More Night Owl Shaming

“Why do you stay up so late? I could never stay up and be productive.” “Just wake up early and do your work!”

These are all phrases that night owls are too familiar with. When you’re a night owl, you often get a lot of shade for operating the way you do (something that I’ll truly never understand). Although some people insist that waking up early and doing schoolwork or starting your day is the way to go, it might not be for everyone. Now when I say night owl, I refer to sleeping late to be at least past midnight and waking up at least past 9 am. Granted, I do agree that it might not be the best to sleep at 6 am and wake up at 4 in the afternoon (and yes I know many of us are doing this during quarantine) but I do think that generally staying up a little bit later and waking up a little bit later doesn’t harm anyone.

I personally like to stay up late to do my work because I feel that it is when I am the most focused and creative. I’ve written my best essays, papers, assignments and HCWLU articles late at night! I feel that nighttime is really peaceful for me because there are no distractions in the rest of my house or outside, and I can more easily stay on track. My feelings of creativity and inspiration have also been supported through various studies that prove night owls are more likely to think of creative solutions to problems. 

From a scientific perspective, research shows that young adults should get at least 7-8 hours of sleep. If you are sleeping late, but at a somewhat consistent time every day and getting your recommended hours of sleep, the effects aren’t that drastic. Our bodies have a natural circadian rhythm, meaning that we are innately awake when the sun is out and asleep when the sun is down. Although I use the term night owl, we don’t only stay awake at night. We have classes, jobs and other things that we need to tend to throughout the day that prevents us from doing so. This often results in us having to sleep earlier and waking up earlier than we would like (but we still do it) which in itself should show that we are in fact not lazy

The stereotype that we work backwards and are prone to dying sooner is a huge generalization because studies have shown that if an individual is not showing any symptoms of fatigue or poor health throughout their day as a late sleeper, they’re likely in good health! If you’re a night owl that still manages to wake up when the sun is high, you’re doing just fine as your circadian rhythm is still intact.

One study actually proved that “night owls generally outlasted early birds in how long they could stay awake and mentally alert before becoming mentally fatigued.” Finally, some science on our side! 

As a night owl, I’m tired of being told that I should switch my sleeping schedule because trust me I’ve tried! I know that I can wake up early if need be, but I simply don’t prefer it. I’d rather sleep later, get more work done and wake up later to ensure that I am still getting enough sleep. I’ve also noticed a common theme throughout all “become an early riser” type articles, they all point to the fact that we should listen to our body. What a lot of these articles ignore is that most of us night owls don’t get tired before midnight, so we actually are listening to our bodies.

Overall, being a night owl is amazing! It encourages creativity, makes you more alert throughout the day and is very peaceful. But like anything, we shouldn’t be too extreme, so please don’t get into the habit of going to sleep when the birds start chirping!