I am an eternal night owl. Early to bed, early to rise is just not for me. No. I prefer the quiet stillness of the wee small hours. Those are the hours when I’m most alert, most creative, most productive.
The problem is, I am not a freelancer and I do not get to set my own schedule. My nocturnal nature does not tie in easily with my daily routine. I endure early mornings against my will and consider any bedtime before midnight an early one.
Despite telling myself every night that I really ought to get some sleep, that I’ll regret it when I drag myself out of bed at 6am, I stay up late. Always. Even when I come home feeling utterly worn out, I begin to unwind and settle into a leisurely evening, and then, hours later, hit that second wind, a burst of energy that makes me want to stay up and finish that piece I’m writing, watch just one or three more episodes of that show, read just a few more chapters of that book. It seems I am often at my happiest sitting in the dark, accompanied only by the dim glow of a book light or my laptop screen.
I’ve occasionally tried to fight it. I’ve attempted early nights and striven for eight hours of sleep on work nights. But I think I’m just not designed that way. If I go to bed early, chances are I’ll just lie awake for several hours, a hundred disordered thoughts buzzing around in my mind.
This all makes daily living tricky though. Attempting to conform to normal daytime schedules doesn’t really get any easier as I get a little older. As a uni student, I used to be able to pull all-nighters working on assignments and still basically function well enough to attend lectures the next day. If I pulled all-nighters on the regular now, I’d be a total zombie and would be capable of little more than sitting at my desk, staring blankly at my computer.
It seems to take longer and longer to really get started in the mornings. Where once a hot shower and a cup of tea usually did the trick, I now often find myself nodding off on the bus and still yawning as I walk up the steps to my office building. I have more and more moments during the day when I zone out mid-task and take several minutes to pull myself together and remember what the hell I’m supposed to be doing. Day after day, the 3pm slump hits hard.
I’ve learned to rein in my late nights a little. I save proper late nights for the weekend and try to avoid staying up beyond 1 am if I can help it. Yet even when the lights are out and I’m trying to fall asleep, I struggle to switch off. A little voice in the back of my mind tells me I’m missing out on the best hours, when I could be writing, reading, planning.
The obvious solution is a freelance lifestyle, where I get to set my own hours and work to a schedule that suits my quirky body clock. Unfortunately, that seems a long way off right now, so I don’t really have any answers.
It’s getting kind of late as I write this. I know I should probably turn in for the night. Just another half hour…