The Night Owl vs The Morning Pussycat

The-Owl-and-The-Pussycat
The Owl and The Pussycat by Renata Wright

ARE NIGHT OWLS MORE CREATIVE?

Personally I am a night owl; it’s a very creative time of day for me. I did a little research into this question and found a lot of evidence supporting the claim that we ARE more creative. However I know many morning people who would swear otherwise, so I guess it’s a personal thing which depends on your daily energy/concentration rhythms.

I have a serious case of night owlism. It’s always been difficult for me to get to bed at a reasonable hour. 

Through school I’d start and finish my homework late. I’d then awake in the morning with just enough time to throw on my uniform, grab some toast, scoff it down on the way to school and walk into my first class a couple of minutes late. 

At uni I was able to really indulge my night owlism. Most lectures and tutorials had a couple of streams so I always chose the late stream. I’d start late and finish late. I’d do my readings and tutorial work late (or more accurately have to pull a few all-nighters to get assignments done on time). 

Night Owl

Being an employee and working the typical 8-5 schedule was a shock to my system. It never got easier to wake up in the morning and get to work on time. Now that I work for myself I have more time flexibility, but my two little angels are hard task-masters when it comes to the morning start. 

Once all the evening chores are done and the kids are in bed, my brain gets a new lease on life and springs into overdrive. So I often end up sitting up way too late; it’s a very creative time for me.

Mornings are my best clarity-thinking time, but night is the most creative for me.

Which brings me to my question.. Are night owls more creative?

There’s a lot of online discussion around this. 

On his blog “Exploring life after the cubicle” Justin Wright says, whilst talking about his own night owl tendencies: 

“The weird thing I have noticed is that I become more and more creative (and productive) after midnight. I start getting projects done like there is no tomorrow. Not to mention the quality of my work increases. I can get 10x more stuff done after midnight than I would a whole day working 8 – 5.”

My experience is the same as Justin’s. I can be very productive at night when all is quiet. And definitely more creative. The trick for me is that I can’t sleep in most days. I obviously have not passed on my night owl gene to my early bird sons!

I also came across this article “Night owls are more creative” which states that

new research suggests that night owls are more likely to be creative thinkers.”

They go on to discuss that it’s most likely due to living outside the norm and developing non-conventional habits. Who created conventional anyway?

 

THE FOR AND AGAINST

Obviously I am biased towards a ‘yes’ night owls are more creative, but here is some for and against.

Firstly let’s play devils advocate and start with The 10 Benefits of Rising Early, And How To Do It by Leo Babauta on ZenHabits

It’s a great article so rather than paraphrasing I recommend you just follow the link and pop over and read it. It certainly does sound good. I’m almost convinced to jump the fence.

Then there are the 10 Benefits of Staying up Late, and How to Do it. Written by Joey Dehnert as a response to the above from a self-confessed night owl.

I think it depends our physiology to some degree. I’d say some of us are wired for night brain power and some for day brain power. So the key is to be aware of what works for you and what your daily energy/concentration rhythm is, then plan your day so that you can ride the waves instead of gasping for air.

 

DAILY ENERGY/CONCENTRATION RHYTHMS

My body would happily stay up later and later and unchecked I think I’d probably phase into going to bed around 3am and waking about 11am. But my conundrum is that I LOVE the early morning time too. I love it when the world is quiet; that feeling of having the world to myself. Kind of like having the freedom to play with all the toys without having to compete with the other kids. …And I’m also on duty for my little boys most mornings. So I have to balance my natural biological tendency to be a late-nighter with these other factors.

We all have conflicting pulls on our time so awareness first and balance second are the keys to a healthy, happy, creative and productive brain. Being aware of your daily energy rhythm is extremely beneficial.

I am at my most mentally sharp in the morning so this is when I do my hardcore thinking work. Then after lunch my energy and concentration take a nose dive. I use this time for tasks that don’t require much brain power, to get my body moving or for a spot of cleaning (in a stylish apron of course!)… Ah the freedom of working from home.

At night, after all is quiet and the jobs are done I come into my creative energy and so this is the time I use for writing, blogging, drawing or for just generally fluffing about (which is extremely enjoyable)!

Barack Obama
Barack Obama

 

We are all different and it’s extremely beneficial to work out what your personal daily rhythm is and plan your day around it. That way you are flowing with your energy rather than against it. Margaret Thatcher for example used to sleep only four hours a night and take a couple of 20 minute power naps through the day. And according to the UP@NIGHT blog Obama is also a night owl:

 

“He holds conference calls with senior staff as late as 11 p.m., and often reads and writes past midnight. Ahead of the Democratic National Convention, he spent consecutive nights holed up in a Chicago hotel room, working on his speech until 2 a.m.”

So now once and for all, let’s get this question answered and let the numbers do the talking:

So what are you? A night owl or a morning pussycat? When are you at your most creative?…

This is Day 20 of my 30 day writing challenge
inspired by Matt Cutts on TED Talks

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10 thoughts on “The Night Owl vs The Morning Pussycat

  1. I think it would be far more creative to (1) discern one’s patterns and cater to them and (2) develop more new products and services and do less talking about what we could be doing.
    (BTW, this would be the only time I could link myself with Maggie Thatcher…)

    1. Well that raises another interesting point Roy. Are ‘creativity’ and ‘productivity’ one in the same? I think when you get both happening together it’s magic… But I don’t think creativity must always be productive in an income earning sense. …Yes I definitely agree that it’s important to discern your own patterns and cater to them, I did mention this in my post. So you’re a Maggie Thatcher style sleeper! So when do you get those four ours? Early or late?

  2. I am a night owl! I love to blog until the late hours in the night/early morning. I am not a morning person at all. Never have been, and like you said if it was not for kids I would easily sleep the morning away!

    Great information about being a night owl and a morning pussycat. I think I work better at night.

    Cheers
    Lisa

  3. I like both! I often wake early, and get started because I feel inspired, but I have noticed I get really creative at night. I go with the flow and sleep when I get tired! Bring on the afternoon nap I say – it should be a law!

  4. “Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast” — Oscar WIlde

    No offense intended pussycats 😉 This one should be reserved for strategic deployment, to be delivered dryly and with as much disdain as is humanly possible when some irritatingly effervescent “morning person” is berating you for your grouchy laziness!

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