A Night Owl Turned Early Bird

Going from a night owl to an early bird has given me the extra time to pursue my hobbies
Going from a night owl to an early bird has given me the extra time to pursue my hobbies

I’ve always envied people who were able to wake up early and get their day started while people were still in their beds sound asleep. On the very few occasions that I had to wake up at the crack of dawn, I would always enjoy the tranquility of the early morning. The sound of birds chirping, the cool crisp air and the beauty of sunrise as it casts light onto the sleeping city. Even though I enjoyed every aspect of early mornings (except for the groggy feeling of being up so early), being a night owl, I was never able to experience the many benefits of early rising.

Every morning was always haste, waking up in panic, cursing at the clock, jumping out of bed, showering up and running out to the car for an anxiety fueled drive to work. No, I was never able to even eat breakfast before rushing to work. To the casual observer, this is obviously an unhealthy living; not only am I jumping out of bed in panic that I had overslept, but having no time for a relaxed breakfast and the anxiety fueled rush to work driving as if I was on the final lap of a F1 race. I was miserable in the mornings and it showed in the office.

My night owl choronotype has been apparent since early years of my life, always having trouble waking up for school. Imagine having zero period (7am class!) in high school and being a night owl. I was very consistent; consistently LATE!

Alarm? What alarm?
Alarm? What alarm?

During my college days, I spoiled myself with plenty of afternoon classes after dropping many 8am… and 9am classes. Even 10am classes were a chore, but I had somehow woken up and dragged myself to class. It was college, and at the time, all my peers stayed up late and so, being a night owl didn’t feel like such a harmful habit. At the time, being a night owl seemed to fit well with my schedule, and to pay for college, I had picked up a job that started at 7-8pm that regularly kept me till 12am-4am. Clocking out at 6am was not uncommon! Working such hours had definitely shifted me from a night owl to the ‘extreme owl’ category. On the rare occasions I had free time, I would frequent the university gym around 12:00am to get a sweat going.

Despite the fact that I was somewhat able to find a workaround with my night owl schedule while I was in college, I found myself gasping for air in the working world. By this time, I had come to a fork in the road where my sleep schedule had kept me from going in the positive direction. It was painfully obvious that I either needed to find a job that fit well with my sleep schedule, or to re-create my chronotype as an early bird.

As with most things in life, changing myself was far more difficult than said and this stage lasted years before I was able to create a habit of rising early. Feeling tired at work, lost productivity and reprimands from bosses was common. If you’re going though this currently, I empathize! I had even been called up for a one-on-one meeting with the president of the company to discuss my morning punctuality. At this point, I was such a morning wreck, the president of a company with 600+ employees sat me down to talk to me about the benefits of rising early and how he uses his morning time! If it wasn’t for my work performance, I would have been fired as soon as the first paycheck!

Watching the sunrise, one of the many benefits of early rising!
Watching the sunrise, one of the many benefits of early rising!

Feeling the need for a big change and after many failed attempts to rise early, I began to feel as if I was letting my life slip away losing hours a day. The lost productivity at work, the feeling of tiredness and not being able to pursue my many hobbies and passions had me in an ever shrinking rat race with me still running inside it. I started becoming claustrophobic in my own self. Having hit a chronotype bottom, I began noting all the past attempts of rising early and analyzed all the points that contributed to my failed attempts at rising early. I was usually able to wake up on time the first day, but everyday after the first was back to the old habit. Still incredibly determined to remodel my chronotype, I began implementing a series of methods based on my theories from scientific studies and other early rising tips that can be found online.  A lot of the tips online are sound and seem to have worked for many people who are in between an early bird and a night owl.

(Disclaimer: I am in no way trying to say that one cannot achieve fulfillment in life being a night owl. To people who are night owls and have work/sleep/play schedules that work for them, I congratulate you. In my observations of myself, I have noticed a drastic increase in productivity, fulfillment, and confidence from self improvements I have been able to form which all started by changing my natural night owl chronotype.)

Image Credits:

Owl: giopuo | Sleeping In: Maldita la hora | Sunrise: idyguy

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7 thoughts on “A Night Owl Turned Early Bird”

  1. I am currently suffering from the “extreme owl” category. I find it hard to fall asleep within 2-3 hours of getting home. I have just recently began to notice a real problem being able to fall asleep, and sometimes even stay asleep. Often times I toss and turn with burning red eyes until I make myself finally get up and get something done since I am unable to sleep. I have worked nights my entire life just about and really would love to have a “normal” sleep life. Very nice article, thanks for writing it.

  2. Hey Ken,

    I totally relate to this! One of my biggest problems right now is sleep. I work nights until about 9-10pm, and take a few hours to relax and eat after getting home. I naturally like to be up at night, so it isn’t rare that I get to bed at 3am. I really wish I could change my behavior so that I am an early riser, but it seems impossible at times!

    I am off to read your chronotype article now, to see if I can get more tips!
    🙂
    Karen

  3. I have this symptom as well. I can never go as far as a week of waking early. After a couple of days, usually 3, i’ll get back to my old routine.

  4. Most of my life, I’ve burned the candle at both ends. It was a by-product of not sleeping well. Running on 5 hours of sleep takes a toll on a person. Fortunately, I’ve started a regular exercise program and that’s made a huge difference. I get to sleep easier, and wake up less frequently. And, I enjoy the sunrise.

  5. @Brad: Yea, it’s tough trying to have a normal life when you’re working nights because the world revolves around the 9-5 schedule. I’ve tried Alaway to calm my burning itchy eyes at night, but I cycle it so I don’t get too dependent on it.

    @Karen: I definitely need time to relax after work too!

    @Karlil: It’s been difficult for me too. There are many days I fail to wake up when I want, but implementing little changes have been working for me.

    @Greg: Exercise does help a lot keep you running optimal, doesn’t it? For some reason, I tend to respond better to anaerobic exercise better than aerobic.

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