Gretchen L. Kelly, Author

Night Owls Rule

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“And I don’t want to hold her down, don’t want to break her crown,

When she says… Let’s go,

I like the night life baby”

-The Cars, Let’s Go

Every morning I wake up early, just as the sun is coming up. I shuffle out to the kitchen and start my coffee before heading out to my back porch. With the early morning chirping of birds as background music I do my morning yoga sequence. Afterwards I sit with my coffee and soak it all in. The stillness. The serenity. The peace. By the time my kids are up I’m sparkling with energy and ready to start the day.

That is completely made up. That is not my life. That is the fantasy version I have wistfully yearned for. The reality is I trudge out to start my coffee barely awake, the kids already dressed and eating their breakfast. I mutter “Leave in 10 minutes” and go get dressed while my coffee is brewing. We all pile in to the car to head off to school, me gripping my coffee for dear life. It takes roughly two carpool lines for me to fully wake up and be in human speaking mode.

It ain’t pretty.

I decided this summer to change all that. I wanted the early morning yoga and the peaceful solitude of just me and my coffee. I started gathering up articles. You know, the ones that pepper every “lifestyle” or “healthy living” section of ever on-line newzine. I read “Top 10 Ways To Become A Morning Person” pretty straightforward and “Hey, Sleepyhead! How To Be A Morning Person” did I just feel someone tussle my hair?. These articles were full of sunny optimism. They made it sound so easy. Happy mornings are just a Buzzfeed article away!

Then I stumbled upon “So You Think You’re A Morning Person” are you taunting me? and “Why Morning People Rule the World” Really? Now you’re just being an asshole. But for the most part, the advice spewing articles were full of hope and promises. It’s so easy! Anyone can do it! Shaman promising to change your life in 10 steps or less. Snake Oil salesman spinning tales of people who’ve transformed their lives by simply adjusting their circadian rhythms. Billy Mays offering you a free Sham Wow if you just read this article!

And I fell for it. I fell for the money back guarantee and the free gift when you purchase two. I am a sucker.

You have probably guessed that it didn’t go well. I saw no sunrise. I tried. But I legitimately can not make my body fall asleep before 11pm. And that’s on a good night.

So in the vein of justifying things and making a negative a positive (my secret super power), I decided that I shouldn’t even try to change this. I shouldn’t yearn to be something different. Just as I shouldn’t wish to be a tall leggy blonde, I shouldn’t wish to be this other person. This unicorn of early morning euphoria. I know they exist, I think I may even know some, but I can’t really be sure. The point is, I need to accept who I am and not fight it.

I’m going to embrace it. Because despite what you may read out there, being a night owl is kinda cool.

I have crazy energy at night time. This is when I work out. Not late at night, but right before or right after dinner. My 7:30pm workout kicks my 6:00am workout’s ass.

At night I feel no guilt. I’m off the clock and done for the day. Free to do whatever I want. If laundry is piling up I let it wait until the next day. I can’t just sit and read a book in the middle of the day or watch t.v. I would stress about all the things that need to get done.

But at night? I can do whatever I want. It’s allowed. No one judges you for sitting on your couch in you pajamas shoving Cheez Its in your mouth at night time.  And you can have a drink without feeling like a degenerate. Try doing that at 6am.

Nighttime is mysterious and interesting and romantic and dangerous. I don’t want to miss out on it. There’s always possibility after dark that just isn’t there during the day. People are more daring, their inhibitions are lowered. No great story ever started with “So, I went to bed early… ”

I’m not alone.

There are plenty of us out there. Probably more than care to admit it.

There are all kinds of people who are biologically predisposed to staying up late. And you should be grateful that these people are out there. They are there if your house catches fire in the middle of the night. They are there if you have an emergency and have to go to the E.R. We need night owls just as much as we need morning people.

And let’s just consider for a minute that we live in a world that really starts moving on morning people’s time schedule. Most of us have to be up for school/work/life at the same time as all of you sunshine greeters. Only we didn’t go to sleep at 9:00. We get used to functioning with less, maybe even thriving. We don’t sweat being tired, it’s a fact of a night owl’s life. We go about our day, doing our thing. We don’t complain about how tired we are on FaceBook, it’s not a big thing to us. Night owls are bad ass.

I would like to point out that I really like morning people. I just don’t understand why we need 156 million articles on how to become one. (Really. I checked Google.)

So morning people, I don’t begrudge you your morning glory and a.m. chipper-ness. Yes, it may be annoying if you’re chatting me up before I’ve had my coffee, but I get it. This is your time. Your shining moment. This is your peak. And that works for you. But don’t judge me for my morning surliness. I’ll get down to business and I’ll get stuff done but I won’t be all sunshine and rainbows until at least mid morning.

My peak will come later in the day. I will have a day of gradual ascension, each hour feeling more energized and creative and alive. I will be dancing around my kitchen and acting silly at dinner time.  While you’re climbing in to bed, I’m sitting on my porch with my husband enjoying a glass of wine and great conversation. While you’re drifting off to sleep, I’m writing, words flowing out effortlessly. I’m recharging, I’m connecting with my man. I’m free to create and write. I go to sleep every night having spent a few hours doing whatever I need to do to take care of me. And feeling no guilt. No one was neglected or ignored because I spent this time on myself.

So here’s to all you night owls out there. Be proud. Flaunt your late night awesomeness. Embrace your lifestyle with no apologies. Steer clear of the articles and that are so abundant because they’re so easy and cliche’. You don’t need to change a thing. You don’t need to follow a ten step program. And you definitely don’t need to believe the hype. You rock.






30 Responses

  1. I can be a morning person when need be, and when I’m in the US, I can be a morning person, but in France, with no reason to get up early? I’m a night owl. I get a lot of things done at night and can even do some of my best work. My creative juices are happy when I’m up late. For a while a couple of years ago I was able to be more geared towards the morning and was able to even work out regularly in the morning, but it was when I lived alone. It might be like this again the day I live on my own again, but until then, and while working from home and searching for a paying job, I’m a night owl and I made peace with it, because I know I’m productive. And with most of my friends being in the US, that means I’m up when it’s the evening for them and that they’re back from work, so it’s another bonus point!

    1. I wouldn’t say I’m ever a morning person. I can get up early and function and all that, but I won’t like it. Not ever. There is a term for people who can go either way, they call them “Larks.” My husband is one. It sounds like you might be as well. And really, you guys are the lucky ones because you can adapt the best and function happily in the early morning or late at night. And I have NEVER been able to work out in the morning. I have tried and tried and tried. Not only do I not have the energy but I also need a good amount of food in me to exercise. And not just a light breakfast, I need multiple feedings before I can work out without getting light-headed and almost passing out. Is France more accommodating to Night Owls? I get the feeling a lot of European countries are a little more laid back on this than the US…

      1. I had no idea there was a term for people who can go either way! I might be one indeed. I think that my body is more suited for American time zones than European ones, as weird as it might be. France isn’t accomodating to Night Owls. At least, I didn’t really meet the French people who are!

  2. OMG Gretchen! You’ve read my thoughts for the past several weeks. I’ve been on this same journey. Doing every trick in the book as well as reading all the articles. Some way and some how I always end up hitting snooze until the kiddos finally wake me up. And now with only 45minutes to get everyone dressed, feed, lunches packed (although as a night owl this would have already been done) my brief case packed and out the door. I’m usually putting my makeup on by 11am at work and cursing myself for not have gotten up and had all of this done before leaving the house. I dream of being that mom that has been up for hours and is already to go by the time the kiddos rise so that we enjoy breakfast together and I help them get dressed and brush their teeth instead of yelling for them to do so from my bathroom while doing the same.
    I AM A NIGHT OWL! I own a dinner only restaurant. I am at my best between 4pm and 1am. I am that way at work and at home. I am present with my kids until bedtime and then I kick into Housewife/single-working mom mode. When I finally sit down its typically 10pm and then I have my “ME” time with a book on the screen porch or some really bad reality TV show.
    This blog was what I needed friend. To know it’s OK and I’m not alone. I will now try to stop beating myself up for not being a “Morning Person”

    1. My dear, sweet friend. If only…. remember all those mornings of skipping our 8am classes? We were such bad influences on each other! And remember trying to make it to Quinn to workout in the morning? I think that lasted a week! And I spent half that time laying on a bench in the locker room trying not to pass out! But hey, we graduated and we had FUN! I wouldn’t change a thing! And you are an awesome night owl! You kick ass at midnight! And you’re an amazing mom whether you get up early or not. All these things you read and hear really do make you feel like you’re supposed to be a morning person and if not you must be lazy, but really? You and I are just as productive on our own time frame. Embrace it Mama, cause we’re pretty awesome no matter what time of day it is! I love you girlie!

  3. First: You are right that morning people don’t suck. Morning people keep things functioning while the rest of us are getting our rescue sleep.

    Second, before you even got to the part about how Night Owls are badass, before I even knew you were going there, I was being tempted to scroll down and leave you a comment telling you to “embrace the night owl.”

    Insomniacs have superpowers. And of course I would say that since I am one. But really. Something about having been up all day and didn’t get enough sleep the night before, if you do it for weeks and months on end, adds up to unique cognitive abilities.

    Thank god for the morning people, though. They cover for us and give us ideas to work the late-night magic on.


    1. Yes, thank god for morning people! I don’t have anything against them and I’m glad they get things started while we’re trying to grab a few hours of sleep. But it is a little crazy just how many things are out there, articles, news programs, etc that try to convince you to become a morning person! I think I’m at a place (after writing this) of embracing it. I might have been a little embarrassed when a neighbor knocked on my door the other morning at 10:30 and I was still in my pajamas… but I had been up for a few hours, I was just enjoying a lazy summer morning!

      And what I’ve found is that when I’m in a pattern of just getting a few hours of sleep a night for a while, my body gets used to it and it doesn’t really phase me. But then if I have a few nights of good sleep it just makes me crave more sleep! Either way, I’m glad I’m this way. My husband’s one of those lucky people who can go either way. He can go to sleep early or stay up late with me. I’ve influenced him to be more of a night person over the years. But I admit, I do envy his ability to go to sleep early when he wants to!

    1. Hell yeah! No shame in that game! I’ve always liked being a night owl but started to feel like maybe I would be more productive and get more done if I was a morning person. But it’s too forced for me, it’s just not who I am. I am embracing my nighttime tendencies now and yes, I am unashamed!

  4. I was a night owl, long ago. However, my nights were filled with not so good things then and how I have a terrible aversion to being awake in the middle of the night. Then I became a morning person but I think that’s because I have trained myself to rise before everyone else to get the peace and quiet and two cups of coffee I need to make myself human. Right now, today, I think I am an ‘in-between’…both staying up and rising a little later. I may have found the happy medium.
    I begrudge no one their perfect time of day. Good for you no matter how it works!

    1. I am owning the night owl thing, but I would love to know how you train yourself to be a morning person… maybe I just wasn’t motivated enough? I think the people that can function “in-between” are the ones that have the best of both worlds! And I truly don’t resent morning people, I do kinda envy them. But I find it strange and annoying that there are all these things out there telling us we should all try to be morning people. I maybe stumbled upon more than the average person because I started seeking out the articles in my attempts to convert. I once had a friend tell me she was a “talented sleeper” she could fall asleep where ever and when ever. That is probably what I really wish for. And I absolutely agree with you, whatever works for you, go for it!

  5. Love it…I’m a total night owl and all my best work gets done late at night and in the wee hours of the morning! I’d take a sunset over a sunrise any day…although it is beautiful I won’t likely see a sunrise unless I haven’t slept yet or its in a picture ☺

    1. I love sunsets, I think they are way more spectacular than any sunrise! In fact, I planned my wedding around the sunset. I’ve seen a few sunrises , unfortunately due to staying up all night. Maybe I would appreciate them more if I wasn’t so tired! And I’m like you, I think I do my best work late at night. I don’t know if I would want to give that up.

  6. Gretchen, I’m one of those morning people and oh sometimes how I wish I could be a night owl! I’m up with the first light of day, which I totally enjoy, but I’m completely brain dead by 3pm. I’d love to get a second wind and be able to work late into the night. Maybe I should just embrace my insomnia, arise at 2:00am, fire up the computer and see what it’s like. I could always take a midday nap! 😉

    1. I’m still trying to figure out a way to have the best of both worlds… But I will say, I had a few days while on vacation when I could have gone to bed at 5:00. I didn’t like it, it felt so foreign to me! And maybe a 2:00am writing session would be super productive! I’d say it’s worth a try, and a midday nap should really just be a standard thing here in the states like it is in some places in Europe…

  7. I’m sort of like Sandy in that I’ve adapted (somewhat) to an in-between life. I typically don’t get to sleep before 11:00 either, but I can pretty easily wake early if needed, and sometimes I enjoy the quiet before the storm (aka kids). If left alone, I’ll only sleep ’till 7:30-ish, which is much earlier than I used to wake up. I will say, though, it’s much harder for me to stay up after midnight than it used to be! I guess my night owl has calmed the eff down. hahaha

    1. I find as I get older I do wake up a little earlier, 7:30 or 8:00 is the ideal time for me. I wish I had a hard time staying up past midnight. 11:00 sounds perfect. I need my night owl to calm the eff down too… But there’s always something and it’s not exciting or glamorous, sometimes it’s writing, lately it’s binge watching Season 4 of Game of Thrones… I’ve been forcing my husband to watch “just one more” and staying up waaaayyy too late. But it’s just so good!

  8. I could have written much of this! I decided a few years ago that it’s okay that I’m not a morning person. Before that, I had subscribed to the notion that morning people got more done and were more successful. That’s ridiculous! My husband learned very early on that he’s not to talk to me in the mornings. He can make a good morning gesture by waving at me and I might wave back, or not. I have a 16 year old who “gets it” also, because she’s the same. It is a real struggle for her to get to sleep which makes waking up for school very difficult. Two more years for her, then she can choose what time to start classes in college.

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