In many cultures across the world, people tend to praise early risers. For example, in English, we have this saying “Early bird gets the worm. In my home country of Poland, we say “Who wakes up early, is blessed for the day. In Japan, the goodness coming from early rising is multiplied by three: “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise“.

On the other hand, there are plenty of claims around the internet, that night owls tend to be more creative. Not to mention, how much some of us hate to wake up early, as our bodies tell us to just snooze a little bit longer.

There is no proof to which of those routines is better. There are people out there living without a routine or certain sleeping schedule. It all depends on how well you can manage yourself. Our personal preferences also have a say in this and they turned out to be genetic. Scientist have traced back the genes responsible for some people’s tendency to stay up late. It lead to a discovery that night owl’s ancestors were kind of a night-watch. It was their duty to stay awake during the night and watch over the rest, resulting in evolving higher alertness and focus during the night.

I am a natural night owl. I hate waking up early and it is usually middle of the night where I feel the most motivated. I used to stay up late for years. I got tempted by all those success stories from early risers so I decided to test out and compare those two lifestyles, for two weeks each and started to write down notes, how is it working out.

STAYING UP LATE

Staying awake for most of the night was easy. I would go to sleep at 4 a.m. and wake up around 11 a.m the next day. All you have to do is push yourself a little bit and prepare some late night snack to fuel you throughout the night. Biggest benefit of such daily routine was quietness and no people around to disturb you. There seems to be more freedom at night and in deed – creative projects come easier at night. And there is more time to socialize. But  working up until the moment were you just pass out asleep, makes you more tired in the morning bringing procrastination on board. After few days I noticed my whole plan for the day would drift apart and it took me longer to prepare for afternoon meetings, as well as if I ended up socializing a little longer than planned, I couldn’t finish my work on time, having to stay up longer and longer .This experience taught me that if you follow a night-time routine, it is highly important to have a very strict time management. Otherwise the day are just passing by and you are stuck on the same project.

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WAKING UP EARLY

Getting out of bed early was quite a task, especially for the first few days. Waking up at 4.30 made me be completely spaced out for at least one hour,  before I could come to my senses.To my surprise, forcing myself to be up at such a crazy time, resulted in increased productivity. There were really quiet moments in the morning, where I could sit down and think. Just on a first day, although I was sleepy and tired, I ended up finishing my tasks at noon, giving me whole afternoon and evening to either unwind or work in advance. After one week I added extra time for study and exercise in the morning. It was somehow easier to do, knowing there is a whole day ahead of me. There were certain times, when I did have to force myself, as motivation did not come easily this early in the morning. There is one big disadvantage of such a routine tough. You do get sleepy early and if you decide to go party with your friends, you either will be too tired to engage socially or the next morning might take its toll on your productivity. And trust me, some mornings you just really don’t want to get up, yet in case of getting up early, being consistent is the key.

If you don’t want to sacrifice your social life or you feel both of those routines might not be as efficient as you would like to, there is a third option.
POLYPHASIC SLEEP 

What is it? It’s a sleep circle where you do not have a one, long sleep but you take a two or more shorter “sleeps”. There are two most famous routines in polyphasic sleep, one is called Everyman, where you have four sleep sessions. The longest one lasting 3 and half an hour and another three 20 minutes naps. You can choose by yourself at what time you sleep, the only important thing is to make sure you have the same sleeping schedule each day. An example of such a routine is: longest sleep between 9 p.m. to 12.30 a.m., then 20 mins at 4.10 a.m.8.10 a.m., 2.40 p.m.  Then there is  Uberman sleep cycle, which completely eliminates long sleep and is wholly based on six 20 minutes naps, each one every 4 hours. Some researchers claim this is the sleep cycle of Leonardo DaVinci, who wanted make the most out of his days and was really unhappy about the amount of time he had to spend sleeping, so he came up with this solution.

Those polyphasic sleeps do have a certain popularity about them, yet there hasn’t been any study explaining health issues which they may cause. It is usually recommended to consult a doctor, before going on such a strict sleeping schedule.

Article written by Dagmara Chen, a 26-year old entrepreneur based in Poland. This article is part of a series – The Lateral Journal.

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2 Comments

  • SAMEER ZADE says:

    I am a night owl. Relatable. I have been reading the articles by Dagmara. They are always well thought out. Would recommend to all. Keep the good work going Dagmara.

    • Dagmara says:

      Thank you! It is always nice to hear someone is finding an inspiration in what I post. I am night owl-turned-morning-bird and sometimes I miss staying up late but my productivity is definitely better in the morning.

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