I’ve always hated mornings. Even as a small kid, I’d resist getting up early, and I would sleep late on weekends. After going against my natural circadian rhythm for more than a decade, I lead a nocturnal lifestyle while studying for my Master’s Degree. All my courses were after 4 p.m., so I had plenty of rest, and I could finally be attentive in class.
What does it mean to lead a nocturnal lifestyle?
We all function according to an internal process that regulates the awake-sleep cycle and which repeats daily, according to the Earth’s rotation (source). Some people, like myself, stray from the ‘norm,’ meaning we still have a 24-hour cycle, but we naturally fall asleep later than the others. We are most active in the evenings and at night; therefore, we are called night owls. At the opposite end of the spectrum, the morning larks fall asleep and wake up earlier. Their energy levers are higher in the first part of the day.
It’s essential to understand that each lifestyle has its perks and disadvantages, so there is no competition. In an ideal world, every person should work when they feel energized and live their lives as they see fit.
My experience of being a night owl
It had its highlights as well as its downsides.
I usually reverted to the nocturnal lifestyle during the exam sessions, when I wasn’t constrained by morning courses anymore. I prepared for my exams mainly at night because the neighbors were quiet, and I could finally concentrate on my books and notes.
The most significant benefit of having a nocturnal lifestyle is that it allows you to skip the suffocating summer heat. If you don’t work, it’s usually better to sleep the heat away during this season. I went out around 7-8 p.m., and I had the entire evening and night to explore or simply do as I pleased.
On the negative side, the main disadvantage was that I lost track of time. It happened especially during wintertime when the sun set early and all my waking hours looked the same. Since it was freezing outside, I had to stay mostly indoors, and things pretty dull after a while.
My tips for leading a healthy nocturnal lifestyle
As I previously said, the healthiest lifestyle is the one that fits your natural tendencies. I am content as a night owl, and I wouldn’t change this about me. If you’re in the same boat, here are some tips on how to live your life to the fullest:
1. Get enough sunlight, exercise, and eat healthily! Remember that meme saying that we humans are basically plants with complicated emotions? That’s exactly how it is. You need proper nourishment to grow. For that, schedule your time carefully and make time for both work and leisure at appropriate times. If you wake up around noon, you could go for a walk or jog around 2 p.m. to kick-start your day.
Do you want to start a running habit? Here’s everything you need to know about it!
2. Find the right job. This step is a bit tricky when you lead a nocturnal lifestyle, but it can be done. My ideal job would start around 4 p.m. because this is when I feel alert, but it’s different for each night owl. Try to find a job that allows working remotely or on flexible hours; working the afternoon shift or even the night shift might be suitable.
3. Keep in touch with your loved ones! Statistically speaking, night owls are a minority, but that shouldn’t stand in the way of socializing. You can see each other over dinner or on weekends to catch up. Even if your programs don’t always match, put on the effort to maintain your relationships and develop new ones. It works wonders for your mental health!
4. Maintain the balance. Unfortunately, we live in a world where everybody has to abide by the same schedule, even if it doesn’t fit us. You will likely have to attend scandalously early events or appointments, so prepare for them ahead. Try to sleep earlier than you would normally do and take a nap during the day to restore your energy levels.
5. Be resourceful. There might not be that many ways to amuse yourself at night, especially during a lockdown. However, there are plenty of things you can still do until the restrictions end. There are endless movies, plays, and books you can devour. Acquire a new skill, such as drawing or doing handmade decorations. Make a new friend overseas. Think about what country you want to visit and learn the native language; it will certainly benefit you!