I’m a Night Owl. I like to stay up long after most people have gone to sleep. The night time feels so peaceful and quiet. I hate morning energy – so many stressed people rushing to get to work – I’d much rather sleep through all that chaos.
People sometimes comment that I need to “fix” my sleeping pattern – in other words, sleep at a “normal” time, and get up in the morning. Fuck that. It feels wrong to me on some kind of primal level. My body just says No.
I’ve tried to do it many times though. It is is really, really, really difficult for me. I usually accomplish falling asleep at Normal Human Sleep Time by basically staying up for longer than 24 hours until Normal Human Sleep Time the next day, at which point I allow myself to pass out from sheer exhaustion. Then I still need to set an alarm so that I can wake up at Normal Human Awakening Time. It’s stressful and unpleasant, and it never lasts, either. It always gets to a point where I’m just not tired at all at Normal Human Sleep Time, and I get so angry at myself for putting myself through this hell that I just stay up and do whatever I want. And thus my sleep time goes back to my usual cycle.
I’ve experimented with many different sleeping times and techniques. I’ve tried biphasic, triphasic, and free-running sleep. Biphasic means sleeping twice a day, triphasic means 3 times, and free-running means basically I stay up as long as I can, and then sleep as long as I can. This resulted in me cycling through time zones constantly. It was interesting to be sure, but also disorienting and confusing.
Biphasic actually works pretty well for me, when I can maintain it. It is often hard for me to have the nap though. When it happens, it happens, but it doesn’t always happen, especially not at a designated time.
My sleep mostly tends to settle on a cycle of me going to sleep between 4am and 6am, and then sleeping for about 5-8 hours, depending on how much sleep my body decides it needs, and whether or not any outside noises wake me up.
The early morning hours after 4am are when I feel the most tired. It makes sense, if you think about it. Back when ancient humans lived in small tribes and had campfires going all night, someone had to stay up late and tend to the fire and keep watch. It makes sense that some people would have a natural, evolutionary tendency to stay up later and get up later. And because human DNA hasn’t really changed a whole lot since then, it makes sense that some people would still be born with these natural cycles. But what do the other humans do? They call it a “disorder” of course! People like me kept people like them safe at night, and this is the thanks we get?!
Obviously this means that a regular 9-5 job would just not work for me at all. It also means that any appointments I make have to be in the afternoon, which can be difficult to align with other people’s schedules sometimes. It’s not without its drawbacks, but I feel much healthier and more relaxed when I sleep at my natural hours than when I try to force myself to sleep at conventional times.
What unconventional tendencies do you have, and how can you honour them?