My waking hours are usually 10-11am until 2-5am. It's not a perfect schedule, by any means, and sometimes I consider trying to hack myself into getting up earlier, but it's usually not worth the effort. I'm lucky that I can work flexible hours, and I get some of my most productive work out in the evening and late at night. Not saying that I don't have the potential to be just as productive in the early morning (but I suspect I wouldn't; even on days when I do go to bed early and wake up early, I feel foggy for longer after I wake up), but being a night owl is just how I am.
I just always am baffled that "becoming a morning person" seems to be considered such a laudable goal. It's not. It's just your sleep schedule. If you're changing yours to sync up with a partner, or to be more available at work, or something like that, good on you, but I don't see how it's somehow special. I was curious enough about the OP's method to read the article, but when I see something like "How I became a morning person", I think "Aww, poor guy; glad I don't have to do that".
e.g. this review article http://www.nature.com/nrendo/journal/v12/n1/full/nrendo.2015...
Likewise it does not set for weeks in summer.
I keep similar hours as the GP, which I can do because I'm remote in a group with other programmers around the world. Actually, the late hours have been useful at work, because we get 24-hour coverage without waking people up when lp0 is on fire. Not to mention that the wee hours are much quieter and generally distraction-free.
However, my mood has been better by phasing a little earlier this winter. I think getting under 7 hours a day of sunlight starts up a bit of SAD for me, which is entirely avoidable at California latitudes.
There simply aren't as many distractions in the morning, because most other people are either still sleeping or at work.
I guess the same would work if most of your workday were really late at night (e.g. midnight to 8 am), but for most people, that kind of lifestyle tends not to be very compatible with the other demands of life and business. So working from early morning until early afternoon seems to hit a nice balance between lack of distractions and compatibility with other people's schedules.
If you really need to be a night owl, well, haven't we got the technology to adjust the lighting in our buildings so that you feel like it's afternoon even when it's only 8 am?
There is also research that indicates that school results improve, and the students report that they feel better if the school starts later in the day, in sync with what appears to be their natural clock. So maybe there is a correlation, but the causation might be just the opposite unless we are talking about clinically depressed people
(that I don't want to trivialize in any way.)
I doubt that there is anything natural at all about the standard office-hours, and I also doubt that we are a exclusively day-active species. There are many accounts of alternative sleeping patterns or segmented-sleep.
When I've tried working longer hours (by starting earlier) my total productivity goes down significantly. I know a lot of people who just say you get used to getting up earlier, but I never do. Even maintaining an early-ish schedule waking up at 6:30 for a full year, I was just plain miserable every day and it never got better. On the other hand, I know plenty of people who only get stuff done in the morning and rise early. Whatever works, but it sucks when jobs force everybody to start on an stupendously early schedule. But it cuts both ways - I don't want to force other people to work on my schedule if that makes them miserable.
Add that a lot of people who work physically hard in that sort of tiring shift work (especially people my parent's age) learn to consider early rising a moral virtue and a badge of worth, and you've got a lot of pressure to hold it up as an admirable standard. It can get pretty silly, to the point that I've seen people promoted for punctuality despite a record of poor performance; factories are different, of course, but America was built on the power of heavy industry, so it's a philosophy that pervades. To wit: even in fields where work spans months instead of hours, getting up daily 'before your competitors' gives you an 'edge'. It's a really odd notion if you look at it closely.
On the other hand, I find the added mild stress of waking early, combined with a ritual (absolutely and especially like making coffee as noted in the article) helps me have an excellent start to the day. I don't usually do that, but I really like it when I do.
Waking early is nice, so long as I'm not horribly sleep deprived to start; or so stressed that I can't fall asleep early.
EDIT: I should note that I'm just skimming the surface here. That industrial timing may really be rooted in how trains had to be critically on-time, which forced plants to be ready or miss the ride, and vice-versa. The whole topic is stressful to read about, but really interesting.
I agree, but personally I find I am in the mood for being productive but in the evenings I tend to surf crap websits and not do anything useful.
Curious if others feel the same on this?
Camping and being in the outdoors with natural light definitely helps, but it still never solves the problem for me, i'm always the last one to sleep and wake up.
It will occasionally adjust itself to something more "normal" but never for more than a week before it starts rolling again.
I work remotely and my wife is a bartender, so it's never much of a problem for me. When I interact with clients I usually end up with a multi-sleep schedule where I'll sleep for 3-4 hour stretches. As long as I don't force it in any direction it doesn't really have an adverse affect besides the occasional weirdness of not being sure if it's 6am or 6pm at certain times of the year because the sunlight is about the same.
It normalizes for me when camping as well. I went on a 3 week road trip this summer with just under half our nights in a tent and pretty much fell asleep by midnight at the latest every night.
I try not to fight it much without having a valid reason - like a tight deadline. And in those instances, coffee will generally put me to sleep within an hour. And if I fight it for longer than, say, a couple weeks, I end up sleep deprived. The only time coffee "works" for me is when I'm not stressed, which is to say not when I "need" it.
That wasn't the case in my twenties, though. I could work on something for 36 hours, sleep for 4-6 and do it all over again for a couple months at a time before I'd start losing my way. I was also drinking a LOT more alcohol back then.
Melatonin has helped me to keep a bit of a balance though (not that you need one, it depends on your life :)), living half in this real world and half in mine has helped me order life a bit and i'm no longer constantly cycling around my sleeping. It's well recommended for circadium disorders.
But I'm lucky to have a job I can start at 11am, even if that's tricky. But with the use of melatonin and loads of other things I don't have to fight myself as much as I used to and can generally get to sleep before 2am(sorry not 1am as above, that would be a miracle). Acceptance definitely helps :).
Haha, I used to do the same with working! I remember once after about 2 weeks straight working 24-40 hour stints I turned to my friend and said "I think i've forgotten how to sleep.". I realised then that sleep takes concentration and if I was overtired I don't have the concentration to get to sleep.
On the other side of the same coin, I've learned not to bother trying if I'm not ready to sleep, and so when I do go to bed, it's because it's time. My wife gets annoyed with my ability to fall asleep about around the moment my head hits the pillow, as it takes her at least 30 minutes.
As for the job schedule, I recently rejoined the freelance world and I'm elated by the idea of going back to MY normal schedule. The company I was working with gave me plenty of [relative] slack because I was productive, but there were still a few too many meetings that kept me on a schedule that didn't really jive. I think that very schedule inadvertently contributed a great deal to my reasons for leaving.
Probably helps too that I have beige walls and a small desk lamp beside me. Using the desk lamp instead of the full room light / a completely black room helps limit eyestrain.
1: blinking is a big deal, and I tend not to blink much when tired but focused. Eye drops help.
2: spent a few years working with a company where video is everything.
Its quite normal. If you work at home and have no family or other obligations that keeps you in sync, you tend to sleep in a bit longer than strictly necessary simply because you can. Naturally you go to bed later also. Now your day has become more than 24 hours. If you are allowed to do this every day, you get very out of sync with the rest of the world and occasionally line up with it again.
For some staying up late is a choice, it may be environmentally caused but for those with a disorder it's not. It's a problem from birth. I'm speaking more about delayed sleep phase syndrome though, I dont know much about non-24.
Play badminton once a week.
Street dance one a week.
Bike to the train station for work every morning (only bike 15 mins each way though).
Meditation 15 minutes every evening after work.
I'm in my early 40's and have been a NO for as long as I can remember. To at least 5th-6th grade, and my mom (she too is a NO to some extent) tells me even before then I was up later than rest of house. Reading books/mags, a little late TV, etc. Needless to say, school was not easy for me.. ever. Elementary school wasn't so bad as I still got enough sleep, but junior high - HS was basically a half day for me as I was a zombie until lunch. Grades reflected it.
When I saw him say "midnight" and that was his concern, I was like, "Really"? That is like the near end of my prime time most alert. I too have been known to start mopping the house at that time or change the oil on my car, then go to gym after then come home and do some client work, work on my PC, etc. I have always felt most productive when I have my time when house goes to sleep and it is quiet. It is no different than the morning one early risers claim they have. That serenity. Just different time block.
The majority of people have no idea what it is like to be a NO. It is reflected negatively and many many times in my adult life have had to brush off the topic when it comes up in gatherings. Little jabs and stuff like "I have to go to gym at 6am tomorrow, hey you could give me a wake up call". Or stuff like "what do you DO all night"?. I really feel like it is looked upon as just being lazy or associated with deadbeats UNLESS you have a direct NEED to be a NO (your job is overnight shift for example). Even then, you are still considered odd because masses just don't associate success with the NO schedule and it is considered a rut to get out of. I guess it is true to some extent because how many 6-figure+ professions are there that are night-owl's?
I am very lucky to have a wife I have been with a long time and just rolls with it. She has not always been happy with my schedule and wants us more in-line, but overall it works. My son, now five, also makes it tough to continue being a NO. It was perfect first few years as my wife and I had whole day covered without either of us being zombies from lack of sleep, but now I just feel weird coming down at 11am when him and mom been up since 8am.
The best fix I have come across though is to just travel east for like 10 days and get up to that time zone. Then come home. When I go home for summer every year it is two hours later than where I live. Even sleeping in there till 10 is 8am where I live. Doing that for a week plus and when I come home, I can't keep my eyes open past midnight for few days. I could then stick with it but I just start to slowly revert. Or one diet coke too late and I blow past the midnight till 2am once and now am ruined again.
I sometimes do wish I was early person. Just for the conformity of it and the associated praise from others that I see all around me, as if it is something regarded as accomplishment. My wife sometimes gets up at 5:30am to run 6 miles and all of our friends "wow" her and tell her how awesome that is. If I were to tell them right after that I too ran 6 miles but it was at midnight, I just get a laugh like I am goof. Just not the same stigma. Benjamin Franklin's saying "early to bed..." still has powerful influence.
I've had a few relationship troubles in the past - in-part because my hours were too weird to cope with over time. Fortunately I've married someone who not only understands, but appreciates my schedule. I'm definitely worried about what it'll be like when we finally get a family started.
For better or worse, there are no hills in Chicago
I go camping on occasion to reset it as well.
Edit: For those without disorders it works similarly. Doing my routine would have you comfortably waking up a bit earlier each day, but just getting some sunlight in the morning and toning down the blue at night would work.
But I'm also really productive between midnight and 4am. That's where I got my best work done during University and when I quit my job last year and went on a 9 months sabbatical.
How about we get rid of this horrible idea that we all need to be up early? If you're a morning person and that works for you: great. You should keep that shit up. If you don't think you are, then you should at least try it. Maybe it would work better for you. Don't discount it.
But if you try it and don't really like it, then why the hell should you have to be at work at 8am? Especially in IT. Our morning commutes clog up our motorways. If people adjusted and spread out office work schedules, it would make our transportation systems that much more flexible.
We don't all need to be morning people.
The few times I wake up early I have a head start on the world for once. Feels good.
I really like night time for the same reason, but I think I interpret it in exactly the opposite way you do: Nobody is bothering me with things (or distracting me with interesting conversation and fun group things to do), so I can finally get some quiet, unbroken work time in, where I can get in the zone and work for four hours without any interruptions.
Still need minium external distractions for this to work, though
Previously, he woke up at 10AM, worked until 8PM, and went to bed around 2AM.
That gives husband and wife 1.5 hours together per day, maximum. Probably less when you factor in chores, cooking, etc.
If husband mvoes his schedule to 5AM also, and works until 5PM, then goes to bed at 9:30, then now he and his wife have a maximum of 4.5 hours together per day.
Do you understand now?
I find that when I'm a morning person I'm much better at getting "needed stuff" done and also take better care of my health. When I do the night-owl thing, I'm far better at the more forward-thinking things but struggle more with taking care of myself and can procrastinate on short-term requirements.
I also find that night-owling can make me feel depressed after a while, not taking care of things that I should, whereas being a morning person can make me feel trivial after a while, not really putting any deep thought into things.
There's some quote the origin escapes me like "they wake up so early because there's so much to do, and go to sleep so early because there's so little to think about" (I'm thinking Middlemarch, but can't find it), which pretty much sums it up. You can't win. (That said I'm pretty happy when on a multi-week solo bike tour and waking up early every day).
Better yet, if you work from home you can wake up at 6am, start your workload early and you have the entire afternoon off for whatever you need, it's a sweet system!
As in interesting point, when I was working 9-5, I noticed that most people at work were incredibly unproductive all day so maybe it is somewhat a social construct also. When alone at night without distractions, without the context of people slacking off, I find it far easier to get focused and I don't just talk nonsense to anyone nearby.
Yup. You'd do exactly that. You learn to live with it (while putting down fire after fire that lack of productivity causes). Source: personal experience.
It's worth noting that some people find (fortunately?) that caffeine does not disrupt their sleep.
Caffeine's relationship to one's chronotype (and genotype and sleep quality) will hopefully receive more study, since it's becoming clear that not everyone needs to heed the "don't consume caffeine before bed" common wisdom.
Here's a short article in Scientific American on one such study.
The paper referred to is behind this paywall. Didn't pay; can't read. It claims preliminary evidence.
My body just doesn't really seem to care. If travel or work demands it, I can pretty easily get up at any time in the morning. Usually I enjoy it. I almost always wake up right away if I've set an alarm, and have little inclination to snooze unless severely sleep deprived. But usually I just go to bed 8.30 hrs before I need to be up, and things take care of themselves.
Here in Thailand where I'm staying there's a custom of waking up before sunrise, so I've been going to sleep around 9 to wake up at around 5.30, enjoying the sunrise with a cup of Nescafé and some reading.
I think the fact that my 3G is metered, plus the warmth and the dark evenings, make it rewarding to sleep early. And I do love the early mornings. Walter Benjamin has a quote that I can't help but agree with (in One-Way Street):
> Anyone seeing the sun come up in front of him while awake, dressed–out walking, say–will retain throughout the day above all else a sense of the sovereignty of an invisibly crowned king, and anyone having the day break over him at work will feel, around noon, as if he had crowned himself.
I can't identify with being either a night owl or a morning person; I just go to bed when I find it reasonable and wake up 8 hours later. The struggles some people have with sleep seem tortuous; I feel blessed.
However, if someone is snoring ever so quietly... Or a clock is ticking... No sleep for me until the infernal noise is silenced. Rain audio works too.
I used to came out with the same sories until travelling in Chile and Peru. There is a two hour time difference at some points of the year, even though they are on the same longitude. After a couple of days I didn't notice, and I realised it's just a number that you are becoming attached to.
But, with the app Sleep Cycle being free, I gave it a shot. And it works. Surprisingly well.
Placebo? Maybe, but I don't care. The point is the past week I've been waking up from 4:30 to 5:00 AM easily. Before with my usual double alarm setup of apple watch on table across from room and phone on night stand, I'd wake up at 5:30 AM, turn off the phone alarm and walk to my apple watch and turn it off. Then promptly went back to bed because I was groggy. This doesn't happen to me with the Sleep Cycle app.
Some people in this thread are saying you don't actually get extra hours because you end up sleeping earlier. While that's true, I've found that I am much more productive before my work day and can get my side tasks/work out of the way. Normally, after work, I can't get anything done due to being tired and constant distractions. Now, I get things done before work and still manage to accomplish nothing after work. A net gain of a few hours.
Just a final thought, I used to love being a night owl because there weren't any distractions for me. I'd have to wait til everybody in the house fell asleep to focus on work, and by then I'd be tired. I'd push on a little bit, sleep, and wake up for work the next day tired. I'm finding that I get mostly the same benefits if not more by waking up early.
Long story short, try the Sleep Cycle app. Maybe it'll work for you too.
In my case, nighttime cardio can keep me awake later. On the other hand, weightlifting late is a significant sleep aid to me.
(That being said, the one trick that worked for me was finding a gym with non-refundable classes in the morning, which forces me to get up.)
The main issue with being a late night worker is that for most of us it means starring at a screen and this affects sleep in a bad way.
Changed my life.
I hate going to bed 'early' because I feel like I'm losing out on valuable time - but I inevitably just sit on reddit/HN until 1am anyway.
The phone call starts off with him ordering me to enable my speaker phone, then drop and do push-ups and sit-ups while simultaneously reciting a poem/pledge/prayer/mantra.. basically any low IQ task for about 2 minutes. Then we spend another 2 minutes chatting. The call is over in 5 minutes but by then I am wide awake.
Works best if your Dad is a former drill sergeant, in a different time-zone, is retired, and doesn't like to talk much. :)
But you might not find it that exciting then, having teenage kids has its own drawbacks.
3 weeks ago I decided to wake up at 5h30 every morning and go to the gym until 7h, when the sun rises. It's been really good and making the most of light hours in this season has been a major boost on my moral.
I hope to maybe be able to get some work or chores done in the morning eventually.
I have started waking up at 04 in the morning since May and it works really well.
I moved from NYC to SF, but I didn't change my natural sleep schedule when I did ;) I just didn't let myself slip -- so the first week, I woke up at 5-6am every day and started to get tired around 11, and 3 years later, I'm on the same routine.
I could get used to early mornings, but right now is 3:45 and I'm on the train home after a concert and nightclub. I can't wake up at 5 with only 1 hour of sleep, and I doubt I could do it on Monday, even if I was used to it.
I was training martial arts like crazy at the time, after work 5 days a week.
I wanted to compete in a tournament. To qualify I had to attend 'special' classes early in the morning. They started 6:30AM, and that meant a 5:30AM wakeup for me.
So I set an alarm and did the first morning. I put the alarm in the next room, so I'd be forced to get up and turn it off.
Going out in the dark felt as weird as going out without any pants on. I was convinced no one else would turn up for the training. They all did, of course.
I did this 5 days the first week, and spent all day at work half-asleep at my desk.
By the end of the following week I felt normal, and it's been my routine ever since, tho I'm not training any more.
I'm still not a 'genuine' morning person. I can't maintain a conversation before 7AM, but I am productive.
Speaking of being more productive: if I head to work at 6AM, the couple hours I get of no interruptions are guaranteed to be the most productive in my day.
About 4 weeks ago I started limiting my caffeine intake. I only drink a bit of espresso in the morning, then nothing after that. The impact was immediate: I suddenly found myself waking up before my alarm clock, every day. In the weekends I am generally up at 8am, which for me is highly unusual. I'm weirded out by it, actually. Caffeine seems to really mess up one's circadian rhythm.
(I don't think the OP is a night owl; an evening person, maybe, but going to bed by midnight is laughably normal.)
I think the most important tip is just start waking up early. Like 5am early. By the end of the day you are exhausted. It'll get easier to go to bed at the right time and waking up will get easier. Things like stimulants, diet, light, sound, etc are all well and good, but nothing trumps just being awake and active for 18 hours.
It will probably take a week or two for your natural sleep cycle to change. I find morning exercise helps this process. (Yes, you too can be one of those crazy assholes at the gym at 6am!)
Have a kid. Then you get what you can take what you can get of the hours, minutes, seconds you can find (and/or create) of the hours, minutes, seconds of the day, and you just deal with it.
The sad part is I don't get any of the "free hours" benefit. If I'm up at 5am, everyone else is too (8am for them). I'd have to get up at 2am to get any extra time and that's just not gonna happen.
>I went to bed early
>End of Story
But three years ago I launched a business which required working early mornings or overnight. I didn’t want to work overnight because that’s a taxing setup for me and, more significantly, I don’t want a schedule so different from the rest of the world—it makes socializing more difficult and can cause inconveniences in general living that I didn’t want to regularly face.
After three years getting up daily anywhere from 4–7AM with maybe 8 days off in that time, I’m quite fond of having to be up early. No, it still doesn’t feel normal to my body, but the discipline to put myself to sleep is helped quite a bit by the motivation that comes from being a business owner. In my setup, I’m at work 30 minutes after I wake up. My work isn’t physically intense, but I’m constantly in motion. I am always on my feet, moving around often (never standing still for more than a minute or two), and regularly working with my arms and hands.
I was never someone who to explicitly did workouts, not to mention anything particularly active first thing in the morning, yet I’ve found the activity in my work helps my body and my mind. Despite the lack of off days, I have to be cognitively busy throughout my days, and the constant physical motion has been great for me, both in terms of how my body feels and how it seems to benefit my head (much like how taking a walk helps most people keep a clearer head).
Coincidentally, I happened to quit caffeinated coffee about a year before starting this business, and that has continued. I only drink decaf coffee and water when I’m working. I live at a high altitude, so skipping caffeine—which never had any obvious stimulant effects for me—has helped me stay hydrated.
Definitely, I appreciate being around for all the sunlight in each day. It’s especially welcome in the winter months. I live in a place with four distinct seasons, but sunshine is present throughout the year, so getting all of it even on the short days has been great. All told, rarely missing a minute of daylight has been invigorating and calming at the same time.
With the hours I have to keep, this schedule has worked great. Work is handled at the hours the business requires and that doesn’t come at any noteworthy cost to personal opportunities. I’m old enough that friends may do something until late at night, but they start early enough that I can participate amply before having to head home. I’d be able to cheat more and stay out late if my business didn’t operate 363 days a year, but my lack of off days means I have to be mindful of pacing myself through the relentlessness. Maybe if the business grows enough that I have ample staff I’ll get to adjust my schedule.
For me, though, my inclination is still toward the night, but forcing myself into mornings has been great. I needed to start a business to find the necessary discipline to make the switch, so I don’t know if the methods to my conversion are worthwhile for many. But I look forward to mornings and enjoy them every day, difficult as it still is for me to wake up. But once I’m up…