Night or Day?
Since childhood I’ve been a ‘night’ person. Although I grew up on a farm in a very rural area, It has never come easy for me to start my day at 5 or 6 am. I read with a flashlight under the covers as a child or listened to Mystery Theater on the radio and usually had trouble getting up in the morning for school. In the afternoons I was far more engaged and involved at school and preferred to study late at night. Although like most kids I was afraid of the dark- and believe me, rural darkness unpolluted by city lights is very dark indeed- I soon learned to embrace the nighttime world- to shut the flashlight off and let my eyes get used to the darkness; the peaceful beauty of the night lit only by the dim light of the moon would reveal a mysterious world. Late at night, when I went to check on the farm animals about to give birth, it became enjoyable to stroll up to the barns in the darkness and be enchanted by the unusual appearance of things so familiar in the light of day.
Taking 7am classes in college was not pleasant and I learned that it was much more productive to schedule my courses later in the day. Even after months of rising early every day, it only takes a matter of 2 or 3 days to return to my much more natural night hours. Conversely, when switching back to day hours, my body never seems to ‘click’ and I’m fighting the morning all the way. When cramming for an exam or finishing research projects- I could stay up all night and be fine the next day- often those mornings were some of the few occasions I was functioning at a high level so ‘early’ in the day. In many jobs or with my business I gravitated naturally to a ‘late’ schedule and preferred night shifts. Now don’t get me wrong- like anyone else, I love the morning: sunrise and first light, the dawning of a new day- it’s just that it’s best if that’s the last thing I do before slumberland!
For the 20 months prior to my health crises, I worked nights from 6pm to 6 am central time, and even through all my health problems and reacclimatizing to my new normal on many different levels, one of the things that has been most difficult to adjust to is sleeping at night! I often get tired around 4 am pacific- 6 am central- not conducive to leading a so called normal life with my family! Most people I know don’t want to talk and visit at 2 am but that’s when I’m really rolling- I’m energetic, creative, entertaining new ideas, focused, bringing elements together for my clients and writing.
Maximizing My Strengths
It really is incredible how much I get done between 10 PM and 3 AM! When I was keeping more traditional hours I got much less accomplished; I was distracted, unfocused, and my creativity well was dry. I was not at my best and no amount of vitamins or exercise seemed to help. With my current freelancing lifestyle, the time of day when I get things done matters little- apart from phone calls- I can research, email, blog, and design advertising late at night and it makes no difference!
Now that’s not to say that I’m strictly nocturnal; I take my life responsibilities seriously, which requires that I be flexible with my time; as such I have many commitments that require morning involvement. Ideally, I would prefer to be at my best- mentally sharp and thinking creatively- early in the day. Since this has not been the case, however, I make the most of it by staying up at night and getting much accomplished, instead of bemoaning the fact that my internal clock resists resetting.
Now a move to Australia might solve my problems with the clock… but being from the North, Christmas in the summer would take some getting used to!