There’s nothing wrong with you, night owl.

There’s nothing wrong with you, night owl

But society thinks there is.

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.

I’m a night owl.

Ah, you’re thinking to yourself, a night owl.

Logically, it makes sense. I’m a person who thrives in the wee hours — I get my best work done between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. My body starts buzzing with energy as the sun dips low in the sky. Sparks of creativity stab me as the cool night air displaces the daytime. I am stronger at night; my workouts are more intense, more productive, more inspired. I am excited at night; ready to take on the world, ready to write epic sagas, ready to buckle down and actually work on my big dreams, the ones that are too large to fit inside a traditional workday.

I am alive at night.

 Logically, you, a morning lark, or perhaps just a regular person who wakes up with the sun and falls tired with the stars, understand my words, my story. I am your opposite — there may be fewer of me, or so you think, but rationally my explanations make sense.

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.


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