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The Night Owl: Is It Normal To Be Nocturnal Nowadays?

I am not a night owl in the sense of roaming the streets after dark bar crawling from one to the next, I just find the calm of the night to be just that, peaceful and more serene. The world shuts down when the sun does. I find that is my most creative time. Regularly, I work right through the night. The next thing I know, my daughter is tugging at my pant leg for her morning cereal.

You’d be suprised how many people are like me, they prefer to be up at night and catch some snooze during the day. Research has shown that ‘night-owls’ display more creative traits then the bright-eyed-booshy-tail-jogging-by-5am-ers. to each their own. But is there a stigma that goes along with being a night owl?

The ‘insomniac’ has gotten a bad wrap over time. Folks think you’re a creep or a drug addict if you stay up and are productive after 3am. As I said before I prefer the quiet the night brings, depending on where you live. That is key, like in real estate, location, location, location. Let’s take a look at the two sides of this coin, the night owl and the early bird to see how they compare.

A night owl, evening person, or just owl. A perfect representation for someone who stays awake during the dark hours because owls are so synonomous with the night. It turns out night owls are considered ‘B-people’ and early birds are the ‘A-people’. A lark would be the animal symbolically linked to the early As. Two chronotypes, diurnality for early birds and nocturnality for the night owls.

Ever since we were kids we’ve heard, “The early bird gets the worm” or “Early to bed, early to rise, first set of hands on the prize”. I’ve had jobs doing both. I’ve been an early riser when I was in the Coast Guard and also worked a graveyard shift at 7-Eleven. Both had their upsides but both had their downsides as well.

I am a firm believer that you will be a lot more successful in life both professionally and personally if you make your schedule fit your lifestyle as opposed to visa versa. I can tell you quite honestly that I was pretty miserable during my military career because I had to get up before the rooster crowed when most mornings, I had only shut my eyes for sleep twenty or thirty minutes before the alarm was set to go off. It was hard to roll out of those covers not only because I had no sleep, but knowing the gloomy, drizzly, cold Seattle weather was there to great me. FACT: This is why Seattlites demand such top shelf coffee.

In turn, my career suffered and I left as soon as I was able. But now, I am not working because of cancer related disabities, and I make my own schedule. I’ve found its made me more at ease and just all around happier in this area of my life. When your schedule reflects your lifestyle, you will be happier and less stressed because your personal and professional lives will not clash.

Night owls (B-people) have been said to be unorganized, unpunctuale, and unreliable but certain employers are learning to adapt to different emloyee’s circadian rhythms, or their internal ‘24-hour or so’ clocks, with flexible working hours.

Even before going into the workforce I could sense my sleep schedule and overall way of behaving was different then other folks my age. Too bad I went through school ahead of what is today being called the “Start School Later Movement”. Basically it is a push to have middle and high school students in America start school no earlier than 8:30am instead of the traditional 7am to 2pm schedule we see most often. Not only have schools that already adopted this schedule shown better test scores, the students report feeling healthier overall and not as ‘sluggish’ throughout the day. Though America is still behind the curve on not ruling the day on an A-type schedule, Denmark has been on this trend for over a decade.

In 2007, BBC News-Denmark writer and contributor Chris Morris produced this article called Late Risers In Denmark, link here, detailing just how the country is operating under this new system and how certain business owners and public officials feel about it.

Stephen Acstrup, who owns a prominent hi-tech ‘B-certified’ company in Denmark says, “I am useless early in the morning. All I can do is drink a cup of coffee and stare into space.” So why would he expect any more from his employees, who make less money, probably have a few more burdens on their mind, and may not sleep as well as they should be? “People used to get up early when they had to feed animals,” he continues, “but I don’t have any animals, so I get to sleep late. His employees are allowed to come in to work according to how they feel and their rhythm, so long as it is before 3pm. What a groovy boss to have yeah?

The founder of the Danish birthed “B-Society”, Camilla Kring calls Denmark a “24/7 society…our industries need to get with the times.” Well at least this country is getting with the times, maybe thats why, among other reasons, according to an article written by Karen Gilchrist, a CNBC contributor, Denmark is the second happiest nation in the world and the U.S. is back twelve spots on that list.

Human beings need a good work-life balance with plenty of sleep, whenever it is they feel most comfortable getting it. There are plenty of hours in a week. We can all work together to come up with the right solution that doesn’t confine the work-week to 9am-5pm alienating a perfectly capable and incredible section of the workforce. America needs to start taking examples from some of these smaller, frigid-weather-surviving European countries or we’ll be just that, left in the cold feeling miserable and sleepy.