Night Owl

I have always been a night owl. Always. My mother attributed this to giving birth just after midnight. According to her, my body clock never readjusted. While I don’t believe this explanation, I have often wondered what makes 20% of us who are naturally nocturnal swim against the tide in those dark and murky waters of the night. 

I secretly admire morning people. They wake up, get out of bed, and start their day. I wake up, prise open my eyes and exhaust my daily allocation of self-discipline just to haul myself out of bed. No wonder I am unable to resist any temptation after this mammoth effort; I have nothing left in the willpower tank by 8am.

Yet I can get up if I must. I spent a year in Switzerland getting up at 5:15am so I could catch the 6:03 bus to work. However, I still got my second wind at night and never went to sleep before midnight. Even then, I had to force myself to go to bed because I knew the price I’d pay in the morning. There were plenty of nights when my carriage turned into a pumpkin as I crawled into bed past any sensible bedtime. I still refer to midnight as pumpkin time and do my best to get to bed by the stroke of twelve.

The moment holidays arrive, my body clock reverts to its preferred circadian rhythm. I can happily stay up and be productive until one or two in the morning. If I am in a state of flow, I can keep working into the wee hours without feeling tired. I love the quiet of the night and the inky black view from my window. Neighbours as well as their dogs are asleep and rarely does a car disturb the peace. The only sounds I hear are the ticking of a clock, the occasional train in the distance and that damn mosquito after my blood. 

Sometimes I feel like a left-handed person in a right-handed world. Everything is geared towards morning people. Most of our jobs, schools, shops, and any admin tasks that require talking to a real person have to be done within ‘business hours’. Admittedly, I can do my banking at four in the morning, but I would find it hard to buy stationery at that time. And then, just to rub it in, there are those super-efficient, maddening people who schedule meetings at 8am. They turn up not only wide awake but are also coherent. Meanwhile, I am slumped over a cup of tea, grunting and nodding my head at what I hope are appropriate moments. As a rule, I’m monosyllabic until 10am.

I have tried to readjust my body clock, I really have. I even bought two years’ worth of morning journals! As I am a self-help junkie always looking for a quick fix, I haven’t quite given up, even though I am onto my third iteration of the journal. According to conventional wisdom, it takes 66 days to start a habit, but I have been going for well over 180 days without success. I have listened to podcasts, read the Miracle Morning and other classics in the oevre, but my body refuses to yield. I am sure these books were written by the 80% who cannot fathom what the problem is in the first place.

Luckily for me, we have reached the Christmas holidays. I give my body permission to do what it does best, namely fall back into ‘bad habits’. I look out the window and see moths do-si-do on the glass pane. Like me, they are attracted to my desk lamp. It is a completely calm night, nothing stirs outside. Once more, I become aware of the clock ticking. Blissfully quiet hours have passed. And so it is Christmas. There is no better way to celebrate than to sing a hymn to honour the magic of this night.

Stille Nacht

Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht,
Alles schläft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hochheilige Paar.
Holder Knabe im lockigen Haar,
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh!

Silent night

Silent night, holy night!
All is calm, and all is bright
Round yon Virgin, Mother and Child
Holy infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

8 thoughts on “Night Owl”

  1. I am not necessarily a night owl, though I do experience broken sleep and hate getting up early. These things do run in the family. My cousin Zeynep and I just waive grumpily and refuse to utter a single word to each other until around half an hour after morning coffee. We were just trying (albeit unsuccessfully) to be well mannered when we stayed in your place. So you have expressed everything I feel about rising in the mornings, but way more eloquently then I ever could.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Merry Christmas! Here’s to a Happy Hogmanay and a safe start to 2022. I am one of those annoying early morning people… and so is the new puppy…. a match made in heaven!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh another night person. How wonderful to know. In my very last workplace before retirement, I negotiated a 10:30 am start so I was coherent for almost anyone & I was incredibly productive till 6:30 pm. I was a miracle 😂😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad to hear from you Sue. But please remember, no real human being can ever be coherent before 10:30 or before two coffees. I am sure this is written in some holy book somewhere.

      Liked by 1 person

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