For the last 10 years of my life I’ve been only sleeping 4 or less hours a night. I don’t have insomnia, in fact I love sleeping but it comes down to a simple reason I told myself many years ago: I don’t want to miss out.
This post is the flip side to Zen Habit’s 10 Benefits of Rising Early, and How To Do It. I want to share how you can do the same but using the night to your advantage – this one’s for the night owls.
The Numbers Don’t Lie
Compared to the average person, I have an extra 4 hours each day dedicated to myself. While many are sleeping, I’m diligently working away or enjoying the quiet in front of the computer.
It all started from a polyphasic sleep experiment I tried many years ago. I always found myself toiling away into the late night hours from the sheer amount of energy I had in my youth.
I found myself taking a nap in the afternoon and jump right back up an hour later. Years would go by before I researched about the idea behind polyphasic sleeping, up until that point I simply found it a great way to get more done in my day.
The benefits were astounding
In a nod to the ZenHabits article, if you’re an early riser that’s excellent. For me, I found an entire new life from burning the midnight oil and you can to.
- Welcome the night. The sunrise is a beautiful thing, I think we can all agree on that but do people take the time to absorb the glory of the stars? Each night I spend a few minutes outisde gazing into the universes infinity glory and realize I’m lucky to experience it.
- Second Wind. As everyone is settling down for the night, I’m still buzzing with excitement. When the night creeps upon us, I take this time to play relaxing music and work on my personal projects that have been postponed through the day.
- Silence. No more chatter, no constant phone calls and email alerts. I love knowing that while I’m still experiencing the world, others are resting, allowing me to explore it on my own.
- Moon…rise?. Many people become emotional as the sun rises but I reserve this feeling for the moon. Every time I look at the moon, it inspires me knowing we visited it – take that sun!
- Late Night Snack. I love breakfast as much as everyone else but the late night snack is always has a tinge of hedonism. I’ll trade a busy breakfast over a late night round up with my friends at IHop.
- Beat the heat. Living in Florida isn’t all sunshine and Disneyland, it can be downright miserable in terms of temperature. Working late at night helps you avoid those uncomfortable moments as you sweat from just standing outside.
- People are strange. My single biggest draw to staying up late is the strange and unique people I find. Everyone during the day seems to be on their edge, they’re busy scuffling around and generally have some kind of attitude. When you meet people late at night, there is an aura of relaxation. Strange people come out at night but every one of them has an exciting and unique lifestyle.
- The world is yours. One of the heaviest subjects on my mind is what’s going on in the world around me. In this 24/7 connected world, spending the additional time sleeping has always been a second thought to staying up and keeping the world in check. I hate the feeling of being lost in the morning, having to get back up to speed so I opt to stay awake instead.
- Plan Tomorrow. While there are certainly benefits of creating a plan in the morning, you’re often in a completely forward thinking mindset for the day. By creating your to-do list before you go to bed, you’ll be able to consider and incorporate what needs to be done and add anything you’ve missed out during the day.
- It’s all clear. I hate the rush of traffic, standing in lines and generally being crowded by people. Grocery shopping late at night, filling up your car, taking a walk is completely clear for you to do what you want without interruption.
How To Stay Up Later
Before you go rush off to fill up another pot of coffee, you don’t need the caffeine to stay up longer each night.
I don’t suggest jumping right into a polyphasic sleep schedule or 4 additional hours each night. Take it step by step, here are a few ways to stay up later each night.
- Have a reason. Don’t stay up just for the hell of it, have a reason why you’re opting out of sleep. Keep a list of goals you’ve been wanting to complete but never had the time.
- Transition into it. Every night stay up just a little bit later. Staying up a couple extra hours the first night is going to make you extremely tired. Instead, push your boundaries just a little bit each night until you find your rhythm.
- Stay away from the bed. As soon as you hit the bed, you’re down for the count. You’ll be tempted to sit or lay in bed while you stay up but this is going to cull you into sleep very quickly. Stay at your desk or at least sitting up so you’ll be active and ready to work.
- Stay stimulated. You don’t need to drink endless amount of coffee to stay up later but you will need something that’s exciting enough. If you plan to work on your projects, put on some music and go at it. Staying up late reading a book is going to eventually wear you down towards sleep. You can still read but break up the sessions so you keep your mind bouncing.
- Find another night owl. As I mentioned, it’s amazing the people you’ll find late at night. If you know another night owl, take some time to talk and listen to what you’re missing out on. Don’t spend all your time doing this though, you’ll want to at least get something done.
- Consider a polyphasic sleep schedule. A polyphasic sleep schedule is essentially taking smaller naps throughout the day instead of one long slumber. It can be fit to your own schedule and isn’t set by any rule. This sleep schedule allows you go later into the night and not feel as tired.
I hope you like the idea of staying up later. Even if you were to spend an extra 1 hour up at night, by the end of the year you’ll have an extra 15 days of productivity.
Keep in mind there are health risks without sleeping but for those of us that seek the night, it’s all worth it. Call us crazy but it’s what we choose.
Image by APOD