Winston Churchill. Voltaire. Bob Dylan. Charles Bukowski. What do these men have in common other than being political, creative, or philosophical geniuses? They are known for being night owls. Studies show that night owls tend to have a higher IQ than early birds, and this may be because there’s a link between creative output and the dark hours of the night. However, if you want to join this elite group of people, you have to know that night owls are also more prone to depression than morning birds, and you should make sure to stay healthy as you transition to this exciting time of your life.
Transitioning to the Night Owl Lifestyle
Go to bed a little later and wake up a little later every night. The best way to transition into the life of a night owl is to take it day by day. Unless you’re in a rush, you should try going to bed and waking up 15-30 minutes later each day until you’ve reached your ideal bedtime. Night owls typically go to bed anywhere between midnight and five in the morning, though you can decide what the term “night owl” means to you. The most important thing is that you find a schedule that works for you and that you stick to it once you’ve transitioned to your ideal sleeping and waking time. In fact, it’s just as important to go to bed and to wake up around the same time as it is to get the 7-8 hours of sleep that most people need to get. Getting 8 hours of sleep each night won’t make you feel rested if you have an erratic sleep schedule.
Once you’ve found your routine, your mind will become accustomed to your new energy cycle and will be able to work more efficiently.
If you can’t wake up later, plan for naps. If you have to wake up at a certain time every morning but are determined to go to bed later, then you should make sure to make up for that sleep during the day as much as you can. Though taking long naps lasting over thirty minutes can actually make you more tired, if you just take one or two 10-15 minute power naps throughout the day, whether it’s on your lunch break or in the late afternoon, then you may be able to get the rest you need.
People also say that 10 minutes of intense focused meditation can be equal to an hour of sleep. If you want to be a night owl but you still have to get up early in the morning, then you may want to look into meditation in the mornings. All you have to do is close your eyes, keep your body still, and focus on your breathing, letting all distractions fade away.
Make sure to give yourself some down time so you don’t have trouble falling asleep. Transitioning to the night owl lifestyle will, of course, lead you to go to bed later, but you should still plan to have a time for yourself to wind down so that you actually do make it to sleep. You should turn off all visual stimuli, which includes your phone, your computer, or your TV, at least an hour before bed so your mind begins to go into “sleep mode.” Relax with some light reading, camomile tea, and soft music before bedtime and you’ll be in dreamland in no time.
If you watch hours of YouTube videos and then attempt to go straight to bed, your mind will still be racing.
Let your friends or family members know about your plans. It’s important to let the people you live with, as well as your friends, know about your new lifestyle change. This will keep your parents or roommates from making too much noise in the morning or expecting you to have late morning brunch plans with them, and will lead them to respect your lifestyle. If you live alone, letting the friends you see frequently know about your decision can be helpful because they won’t call you or come knocking on your door early, and they won’t send you emails at seven in the morning expecting a response any time soon.
Your friends or family members may also be open to hanging out with you later in the evenings, since they know you’ll be staying up late.
Find work that supports your new lifestyle. If you’re really committed to being a night owl, then you should find a way to work or study that syncs up with your way of life. You can work for an international company in a completely different timezone, so you can communicate with your coworkers and get business done in the middle of the night. You can also be a writer, blogger, or have a contract position where it doesn’t matter when you work, as long as you get the job done. If you’re in school, you can set up a study schedule that allows you to be productive at night, and to get up in time for your exams.
If you’re in a creative field, such as painting, photography, design, or acting, then you may be able to create, practice, rehearse, develop photos, or get much of your creative work done in the nighttime. In fact, it may even be easier for you to do so because you’ll have fewer interruptions!
Reaping the Advantages of the Night Owl Lifestyle
Enjoy the quiet while everyone else is sleeping. One major benefit of being a night owl is that the world will be asleep when you get to work. Whether you live alone or with roommates, you’ll have the sense that the world has gotten quieter, and that it has slowed down just enough for you to catch your breath and get down to business. You’ll look out your window and find that there are only a few lights on in your neighborhood and should have a sense of calm and peace.
You can take advantage of this quiet, this time away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, to do whatever it is you want to do. You can get creative, do some homework, talk to fellow night owls, or just hang out in your living room and read a magazine. Take advantage of the fact that no one will disturb you and that you can do whatever you want without being slowed down.
Use your appliances at night — it’s cheaper.  One thing you can do if you want to be a night own is to use your dishwasher, oven, or other appliances that most people use during the day. If you have a washing machine and dryer, then you can do your laundry at night, too. Not only will you be able to use your appliances without worrying about other people in your building or your home wanting to use them, but you’ll also save some money, too.
You should look into your utility company’s peak and off-peak rates to see when you can use your appliances more cheaply.
Use as much space in your home as you can. If you don’t live alone, then you can use the time when everyone else is sleeping to take advantage of hanging out in different parts of your home. Maybe you can finally hang out in the living room on your own without being interrupted, or take advantage of the office that is normally used by your roommates. You can step out on your balcony or in your yard on your own to get some fresh air. You can even start a baking project in your kitchen — as long as you focus on cooking for the next day, and not indulging in too much late-night eating. Think about it: where in your home would you most like to be during the day, when other people are in it? Take advantage of the alone time you have there.
You can even do some yoga or do a giant puzzle in a room with a hardwood floor that is normally taken. Take advantage of the fact that you’re the king of the castle — when it’s dark out, anyway.
Write down your creative ideas. The nighttime is prime territory for night owls to get their creative work down. If you’re a creative person, whether you’re a fiction writer, visual artist, painter, or composer, you can use this time to get down to business. Find a calm space, play some light music if that works for you, light a candle, and just focus on working and writing down whatever comes to your head without judgment or distraction. You can make a point of avoiding the Internet, or even avoiding your computer in general, in order to focus on the work in front of you.
You may not be used to working with a pen and paper instead of your computer, but this may be just the thing that gets your creative juices flowing. If you tend to do your “work work” in front of a computer, this can also be a nice way to separate your creative work from your day job.
Some business people actually recommend standing up at your kitchen counter at night, and thinking of it as an “idea bar” where you can generate new ideas, instead of sitting down as you normally do.
Focus on one project at a time. Another thing you can do to take advantage of the night owl lifestyle is that you won’t have to deal with a lot of the distractions from the outside world that you would face in the daytime. You won’t get annoying phone calls from telemarketers, you won’t get a slew of emails from your work, and you won’t have anyone knocking on your door asking if you’d like to buy a candy bar. Since these distractions won’t be there to bother you, you can work on picking just one project at a time and sticking to it, so your nighttime hours are the most productive. You can set one night aside for a creative project, like starting a short story. You can even spend every night for a week, or a month, to really work on it. You can also set aside each night for a different aspect of your job.
Just avoid multi-tasking as much as you can if you want to be efficient. Of course, this is good advice for working during the day, as well, but being a night owl makes it much easier to focus on one project at a time, so you should take advantage of that.
Check out late-night dining, working, or hanging out options. Though one advantage of being a night owl is that you’re free to be on your own, working on your own projects without distractions, there’s nothing wrong in wanting to hang out with other night owls. In fact, you may get a bit lonely being up at night by yourself all the time, so you should look into grabbing a late-night snack with a fellow night owl at a diner (while trying to keep it healthy), hanging out at coffee shop that is open until midnight, or even meeting up with some friends to go bar hopping when you can. Just because you’re a night owl doesn’t mean you have to be alone all the time. If you know other night owls, ask them where they hang out at night when they do go out. They may have some ideas for places to catch a late movie, cool bars or restaurants, or other ways that you can still feel like you’re part of a community even though you’re up late.
Make a schedule around your energy cycle. Another thing you can do to take advantage of your night owl lifestyle is to make a plan in advance to make sure that you make the most of your energy peaks and valleys. For example, if you have trouble getting up in the mornings and don’t feel like you’re fully functional until some time after noon, then don’t plan to have important meetings or to make any important decisions before then, if you can avoid it; instead, save the easy stuff, like chores or routine emails, for the morning, and plan for the serious and/or creative stuff for later. You should also know when your energy dips the most. If you feel the most tired around 2-3 pm every day, for example, then you can plan to go for a quick energy-reviving walk around then, instead of forcing yourself to slog through a pile of work.
If you know you’re most productive around 10 pm, for example, and your friend asks you to catch a late movie then, you may want to put it off if you have a short story you want to work on in the evening. You want to be able to catch that creative lightning in a bottle instead of spending those productive times doing something you could do when you’re sleepy or tired.
Avoid late-night eating. One problem that night owls face is that they tend to eat a “fourth meal” late into the night. These meals can be problematic because most people tend to eat them when they get a craving, spend another hour or two in front of the computer or television, and then pass out shortly thereafter, leading them to burn very few calories after eating some extra food. To avoid the late-night meal, you can plan for a dinner time as late as 9 or 10 pm, and then have some healthy snacks, such as almonds, yogurt, or bananas around in case you get a craving. Of course, if you’re a night owl, then you may be more likely to get in a late evening workout routine. Working out in the evening is okay, but remember that, contrary to what people believe, it actually gets your adrenalin pumping and makes you less, not more, ready for bed. If you do plan to work out late as a means to stay healthy, make sure you still leave a few hours between working out and bedtime.
If you’re committed to working out late, then you can check out a late or 24-hour gym in your area. You may be compelled to run in the evenings, but try to do it with a running buddy or in a place where you will be safe, with many other runners doing the same.
Make sure you get enough sunlight. If you’re a night owl, then you might not be spending very much time outside in the sun. While you don’t have to be outdoors all day to get the Vitamin D you need for the day, it is important to get some sunlight to protect against the risk of many diseases, such as heart disease, osteoporosis, breast cancer, and others. Getting enough sun can also help protect you from insomnia, depression, and having an overly-active immune system.
Even if you don’t wake up until the sun has been up for many hours, you should get the equivalent of spending at least 10 minutes in the sun per day, with some of your skin exposed, if you want to stay healthy.
Even if the sun isn’t out, it’s important to spend at least half an hour outdoors if you can, for your mental and physical health.
Chat with other night owls to avoid isolation. Though one of the benefits of being a night owl is that you can get your work done without distraction, the downside is that you may spend more time by yourself as a result. If you’re okay with a lot of solo time, that’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you should make a point of socializing or being around people at least a few times a day. This can help you stay healthier while feeling like you’re not alone in the universe.
If you know other night owls with similar interests, try to talk to them at night, when you need a little break from work or creativity, so you can swap ideas. Whether you chat on the phone, online, or even meet up in person, it’s important to connect to people when you can.
Of course, it may not be possible to socialize with people you know every single day of your life. However, if you want to keep yourself from feeling isolated, make sure to step out of your house at least twice a day and talk to people, even if you’re just making small talk with the person sitting next to you at the coffee shop, or talking to the girl at the deli counter. Even the smallest human interactions can do wonders for your mental health.
Try standing up to work. If you’re a night owl, then you may be prone to spending large portions of the evening sitting at your computer or sitting in front of the television. You should work on spending some time standing as well so that you stay healthy and keep your spine straight. Investing in a standing desk can do wonders for your health and can make you excited about doing work. Sitting down can lead to hunch over, hurt your arms, back, and neck, and therefore to feel less motivated to get work done. Though you don’t have to stand all the time, you can try to do it for at least a few hours each evening to break up your routine.
You don’t have to get a standing desk or even work on your computer when you’re standing up. But, for example, you can stand up to do other things, like chat on the phone, or just to think aloud or generate creative ideas, instead of sitting down.
Make sure to get enough sleep. Night owls are notorious for not getting enough sleep. They may stay up late into the night and then wake up fairly early, hoping a few cans of soda will keep them alert. If you want to be a true night owl while staying healthy, however, then you should make sure not to fall into this trap, and to create a life that allows you to stay up late and to get enough rest in the process.
If you’re stuck with a schedule that requires you to wake up really early, then you need to seriously consider whether or not being a night owl is right for you. If you’re determined to make it work, though, then you should try to find a way to change your schedule so you could wake up later.
Avoid too much caffeine. Night owls have been proven to typically drink more caffeine than early birds. While a little caffeine can help get you going, too much can lead you to crash, give you headaches, and keep you from being productive. People who keep more typical hours should avoid having caffeine after noon or so so they can fall asleep more easily in the evenings. If you stay up much later past midnight, then you should avoid having caffeine after 3 pm. or you’ll be staying up much later than you need to, and will feel jittery when you try to get to bed.
Aim to have just one or two caffeinated beverages a day. You can have enough to give you a little boost, but not so much that you become dependent on it.
If you feel like you’re on a caffeine high for too much of the day, you can try replacing your usual coffee with a low-caffeine tea. It will make you feel less jittery and may also have less of an impact on your stomach.
Avoid energy drinks as much as you can. While they may give you what is initially a strong boost of energy, they are very sugary and will lead to a major crash, later on.
It helps to have friends who are night owls who you can hang with.
Be sure to get plenty of exercise and keep a healthy diet-this can be hard when its dark out for some reason…
Drink a Monster or other energy drink to help you stay awake if you are tired.
This is best to do during the Summer if you’re in school-you don’t want to fall asleep in all your classes and fail, that would be bad…
(If you live with your parents) be sure it’s OK with your parent/guardian.
How to Be Nocturnal
How to Stay Up All Night Alone (for Kids)
How to Stay up Late Quietly on a School Night Without Waking Your Parents
How to Stay Up All Night Secretly (for Kids)
Sources and Citations
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