I woke up at 2:30 p.m. today.
There. I said it. And I know what you’re thinking.
Just that short little 9-word sentence has you making assumptions, judging, trying to figure me out. All the thoughts you’re having boil down to one question: What’s wrong with you?
What’s wrong with you, Komal?
Am I sick? Did I sleep in because my body is weak and I needed an extra six hours in a horizontal position?
Am I lazy? Did I sleep in past noon simply because I didn’t feel like getting up?
Did I just stay up too late, shooting the breeze and procrastinating? Did I watch six episodes of House instead of sleeping, like I should have been?
Do I have some sort of sleeping sickness that causes me to sleep 15 hours straight? Did I go to bed at a reasonable hour, only to find myself waking up in the middle of the afternoon?
Actually, there’s nothing wrong with me.
I am not sick. I won’t deny that I’m a little lazy, but I prefer to use the word efficient. I only watched two episodes of House last night, and, as far as I know, I am free of all sleeping diseases. In fact, I went to bed at 8 a.m., which means I only slept about five and a half hours. That’s quite a bit less than 15.
If only rational thought had a tangible place in this world, you, along with my friends, my family, my employers and colleagues, the strangers I meet on the street and the scientists who study sleep patterns, would have no issues with my “alternative” schedule.
But it doesn’t.
It doesn’t matter that I work between 8 and 16 hours a day; if I wake up after noon I am lazy.
It doesn’t matter that I sleep less than six hours every night; if I wake up after noon I am wasting the day.
It doesn’t matter that I go to bed at 9 a.m.; if I wake up after noon, I must be sleeping too much, or perhaps not at all.
Why don’t I try to transition? Why can’t I just go to bed earlier? Don’t I know that morning larks are happier and healthier overall?
Why don’t you try to transition? Why don’t you try to go to sleep at 1 p.m., instead of at 9 p.m., and let me know how that works out for you? And let me let you in on a little secret: Morning larks have it friggin’ easy. I’m sure I’d be happier and healthier too if the entire world ran like clockwork around my own, personal, natural schedule.
I don’t have any 9-to-5 job, but if I did, you can bet I would not be happy. And probably not very healthy, either. Let’s force you to wake up at midnight every morning and have you work an eight-hour shift, and we’ll see how bright and chipper you are after a week or two.
Don’t get me wrong — I would love to be a morning person. A natural lark cashes in on a sweet deal and gains widespread societal acceptance. In fact, the earlier you naturally pop out of bed, the more admired you are.
You have your pick of jobs, and people — even night owls like me — force themselves into unnatural, unhealthy schedules to accommodate your morning-larkly-greatness. You wake up at 5 a.m.? That’s fantastic! You’re considered successful, put together, and morally upstanding.
I stay up all night and go to bed as the sun rises? Great. I’m a lazy, unsuccessful, drunken creative type whose only saving grace is that I probably know where you can get cheap hits of ecstasy.
At least, that’s what the world thinks.
This is not an article about becoming a morning person. It’s not about how night owls can change and mold themselves into cookie-cutter, early-rising 9-to-5-ers. It’s not an article about building a killer morning routine, or why you should feel guilty about sleeping in, or about how morning larks are balanced, happy people with zero problems.
I’m a night owl, and I embrace it. I’m happy and healthy because I allow my body to follow its natural schedule, not because I force it into an artificial sleep cycle to please society. I’m productive, because I’m awake during my most creative hours, not fitfully attempting to sleep and getting nowhere.
If you’re a night owl, embrace it. As much as you can, anyway — your schedule may not be as flexible as mine. And stop thinking that you need to become an early riser, or a morning person, to be happy.
Because what you really need is to sleep in.