It’s been a long day. In fact, it seems to be getting longer, given the fact it is approaching 3 am. I am not really a night owl by nature, but sometimes it just happens, you know?
It began with a large cup of coffee and ended with a glass of California red wine, which would have been fine, if I hadn’t had the other 5 cups of coffee spread throughout the day. Why did I do it? Most likely the motivation was, “energy,” but now I am sleepless in Carmel.
Of course, writers are notorious for being big coffee drinkers and staying up into the wee hours of the morning, squeezing every drop of creative juice from their head to the paper (in this case computer). It’s moments like this that make me realize why so many writer’s end up working freelance. Certainly the restrictions of needing normal sleep hours are just too much for their creative masterminds. These nocturnes, day sleepers, diurnally challenged word crafters that seem to get by on little-to-no sleep are not recognized as unique segments of society. In fact, while no one would admit to discriminating against night owls, it is certain that such partisanship exists, especially in the office place.
However unjust and unfair it seems though… in order to be fair… I must admit that good sleep helps to produce good work. For example, it is doubtful that a news columnist for a prominent paper is going to be able to pump out article after article, meeting every deadline on 2-3 hours sleep a night.
Here are some interesting facts:
Research by Henry Ford Hospital Sleep Disorders Center found that people who slept eight hours and then claimed they were “well rested” actually performed better and were more alert if they slept another two hours. That figures. Until the invention of the lightbulb (damn you, Edison!), the average person slumbered 10 hours a night.
2 // Night owls are more creative.
Artists, writers, and coders typically fire on all cylinders by crashing near dawn and awakening at the crack of noon. In one study, “evening people” almost universally slam-dunked a standardized creativity test. Their early-bird brethren struggled for passing scores.
3 // Rising early is stressful.
The stress hormone cortisol peaks in your blood around 7 am. So if you get up then, you may experience tension. Grab some extra Zs! You’ll wake up feeling less like Bert, more like Ernie.
However, despite my current plight, I really am more of a morning person. My biological time clock functions much better early on. Even though I have no problem getting up in the morning when I stay up late, it is certain my ability to think sharply will be dulled somewhat.
(Next morning at the office) “Oh, um, it’s Thursday, but Barney thinks it’s Friday… so we won’t tell him… just keep that going.”
Night owls generally have a different idea about there propensity to “stay up” all night.
“I really haven’t got time to be tired…No matter what hour it is.”
“I really never get tired unless I stop and make time for it.”
“Sometimes I purposely stay up late, just so I can have my morning coffee before bed.”
“Sleep is like the unicorn–it’s rumored to exist, but I doubt that I will see any.”
So, if you are a coffee drinker and a writer, this is a bad combination. Instead of drinking coffee during the day, you may want to take another tack. On the other hand, if you are a night owl then take solace, because new research suggests that night owls are more likely to be creative thinkers. Scientists can’t yet fully explain why evening types appear to be more creative, but they suggest it could be an adaptation to living outside the norm. Hans Van Dongen, associate research professor at the Sleep and Performance Research Center at Washington State University, helped to discover the biological explanation behind morning and evening types. He and his colleagues found that a small group of brain cells, called suprachiasmatic nuclei, emit signals to the body that synchronise the time of day. This biological clock runs two hours ahead in morning types and two hours later in evening types.
“One could reasonably envision a link between the personality trait of extroversion and the finding of creativity,” Van Dongen says.
So, if you happen to be a writer and a night owl, don’t blame it on the coffee, but blame it on your brain!!!