Girls Night In

the blog for single, over-40 women

Confessions of a Night Owl

on July 11, 2014
Night Owl

Image courtesy of thawats/

The world is not kind to night owls.

Take me, for instance. I am not a morning person. Never have been. Just ask my dad who, during my terrible teens, would tiptoe into my room and douse me awake with a glass of water. His preferred method of alarm, though, was to stand just inside the bedroom door and whistle “Taps” with the loving intensity of a train blast.

Rubbing my eyes, I would mumble, “OK, I’m up.”

“You’re not up.” Deep breath and —

I would stumble out of bed. “I’m up!” And, by then, I was.

The world is not kind to night owls.

Especially those who struggle with insomnia.

Every 8-to-5 job I’ve had has been a torment — shuffling into the office after another sleepless night, struggling to make it through the ubiquitous and interminable afternoon meetings without giving my oh-so-sleepy self away, trying to get something done even though my brain and body betray me with thoughts of soft pillows and quiet, dark spaces. Often I would take my work home at night, then astound my boss the next day with the brilliant new ideas I came up with, ahem, that very morning.

And it’s not just at work where the world is unkind. When I lived in Colorado, my singles group would head into the mountains near Breckenridge for a weekend of hiking, biking and as much laughter and games as we could cram into 48 hours. The handful of night owls, like me, would stay up late, snacking on M&Ms and diet Coke, playing “I have never . . .” and telling funny stories.

Eventually, we’d call it a night. In deference to those who were already snoozing, I’d slip into the shared sleeping space and get ready for bed in the dark as quietly as possible. When I finally crawled onto my bunk, it was with the assurance I could sleep through breakfast and join everyone later.

Alas, my weekend roommates saw things differently. In their minds, when the sun comes up everyone should be awake and ready to greet the beautiful day! Lights blink on, blazing into the peaceful darkness. Loud laughter and comments about shampoo and what shirt to wear pierce the silence. The showers run continuously in the adjoining bathroom. And then, the pièce de résistance, the you-cannot-sleep-through-this-no-way-no-how final insult to any night owl: the hairdryer.

All of this made me feel there might be something wrong with my up-all-night, sleep-til-ten proclivities. It certainly seems the world treats being a morning person as right and normal and rewardable while night owls must be punished for their . . . what? Overindulgence?

And yet, I don’t get more sleep. My average is six to seven hours a night. So I’m not snoring my life away. Just my mornings.

After Midnight

Writers, it would seem, are expected to be morning people. One summer, I signed on for Jeff Goins’ 15 Habits of Great Writers challenge. I didn’t make it through day two. Oh, I read every lesson and learned a lot. But as soon as he said to get up two hours earlier, my shoulders slumped in disappointment. Earlier? Couldn’t I stay up two hours later? Or, better yet, couldn’t I commit to writing more on my own timetable?

Still, it makes me wonder if, perhaps, I need to change. Maybe I could train myself to be a morning person. But do I need to?

At least part of the negative attitude toward late-nighters might come from 1 Thessalonians 5:5, which points out: “For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness.”

Does not speak well for night owls.

Before Dawn

So, I decided to look for more positive Scriptural thoughts about “night.” And I soon found a verse that appealed to my poetic nature, written by the sons of Korah. These long-gone men just might be my soul mates.

By day the Lord commands His steadfast love,
and at night His song is with me,
a prayer to the God of my life
(Psalm 42:8).

The world might not be kind to night owls, but God is. He gives us lyrics. At night. While our half of the hemisphere slumbers. In fact, I found several instances where biblical authors spoke of the songs, visions or, of course, dreams they received at night. No wonder I’m often awake until 2, 3, even 4 a.m., desperately trying to get down all the words pulsing through me.

After years of guilt-ridden night owl-ness, I’ve finally been able to make my peace with it.

We are surrounded by people of all sorts and kinds and oddities, each with their weaknesses, joys, sorrows and strengths. It’s what gives life to our worlds. And it’s what makes each of us unique.

So, are you a morning person or a night owl? What makes you unique?


2 responses to “Confessions of a Night Owl

  1. I am a late morning, early afternoon person, assuming I’ve gotten enough sleep! Some people might think I’m a morning person during events like campouts and retreats, because I usually get up early. But that’s mostly because I probably haven’t slept well. Plus, I probably went to bed early because I was so tired. I get this. Being a “neither” has its social challenges, too. I’m usually the first one to leave during evening events, but don’t invite me to breakfast, either! At least not before 8. 🙂

    • sharynkopf says:

      Mornings are tough for me, too, Charity. But, like you, I do think I’m gradually becoming more of an in-betweener or “neither.” Hopefully, that will make life a little easier.

      So, if an opportunity arrives for us to get together, let’s plan on lunch! 😀

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