Articles Complex Personality Mental Health

Are Night Owls More Successful than Early Birds?

The Times Have Changed

I don’t believe I have to say this but this is the 21st century. And, it’s high time people stop believing in the myth that morning is the only time for working. It was logical for our ancestors to complete their daily chores and livelihood duties in the daytime because it was convenient. There was no artificial light or electricity in those times and alternatives like candles and lamps were either very expensive or not very viable. Naturally, people developed a schedule in which they worked from sunrise to sunset and after spending some family time slept after supper. With sun’s first light, their day began again.

Nowadays we have a plethora of options. We have cities that never sleep and clubs that never see the light of day. For some the day begins after 7 o’ clock in the evening. Being a night owl is a style statement today and students who burn the midnight oil are considered to be ahead of the curve. So I reckon we should let go of this dogma of “daytime job” and hear the other side out.

Not Everyone is a Morning Person

I have more often than not heard people refer to themselves as morning people. These members of the 6 am club get up with the sun and toil their day away in hopes of fulfilling their dreams. I seldom hear anyone claiming to be a night person or a night owl. This is not because there are no people who prefer to work in the evening or even in the wee hours of the night.

“There are people -mostly introverts but sometimes extroverts too- who prefer to work in the silence of the night. I personally find the night to be a peaceful time that gives a perfect opportunity to work on my writing. The night is the canvas on which artists paint their unsung songs and unseen paintings over.”


It’s because our so-called modern society still equates day with work and night with rest much in the same way racists consider white to be a sign of supremacy and other colors to be anything but. So let me enlighten you. There are people -mostly introverts but sometimes extroverts too- who prefer to work in the silence of the night. I personally find the night to be a peaceful time that gives a perfect opportunity to work on my writing. I don’t have to worry about someone knocking on the door unannounced or calling me up to discuss trivial matters of life. The night is the canvas on which artists paint their unsung songs and unseen paintings over.

Give the Night Owls a Chance

I am not saying that we should party the day away and work only in the night. All I’m saying is that society should be flexible enough to give the night owls a choice. It has been established through various scientific studies including one done by the University of Madrid that due to environment, genetic predisposition, and various other factors, a healthy percentage of the world’s population is more alert in the night time. The preference to work in the night for some people thus comes from a logical place. For them the time when they are most energised and efficient is in the night.

Benefits of Being a Night Owl

Allowing people to work and rest according to their comfort is not only beneficial for the people themselves but also the people around them including their employers. Working in conditions optimum for their own body and mindset means that whether it is the early birds or the night owls, the employees work with high efficiency and accuracy. With increased focus, people complete their work in a shorter time allowing them to finish more tasks in a day.

Another benefit of being a night owl is that night is silent and full of opportunities. The silence and fewer hindrances allow people to be more creative and inquisitive. Research is best at night and night owls by various standards are considered to have a higher average IQ. Examples include Barack Obama, Mark Zuckerberg, J. R. R. Tolkien, Winston Churchill, and Bob Dylan.

Understand the Circadian Rhythm Better

Stop quoting Circadian rhythm to justify working in the morning for god’s sake. Or at least first understand what it is. Circadian rhythm consists of natural body cycles that change during the day and night for a human being. It divides our whole day into contingents of low and high energy periods depending on various factors like heart rate, breathing rate, blood pressure, metabolism, and many psychological factors like alertness and task-related focus.

For instance, during the 2-4 pm window, our breathing rate and metabolism are at their lowest due to which we find it difficult to focus on the task at hand. Due to the decreased focus, we are also highly impulsive and hence have high reaction times. Naturally, it is good to sleep at that time. The proponents of morning work also ignore the fact that according to the Circadian rhythm our blood pressure and body temperature are at their highest around seven in the evening. This means we have a high energy period from 6 pm to 9 pm that we can utilize to our benefit.

“Instead of taking the straightforward and rigid timing of the Circadian Cycle, the Rahu Kaal concept defines optimal working hours depending on the days of the week.”

Infact these findings have been more deeply researched and written in various spiritual concepts of the Sanatan Dharam, one of which is the Rahu Kaal. Instead of taking the straightforward and rigid timing of the Circadian Cycle, the Rahu Kaal concept defines optimal working hours depending on the days of the week. As you can see in the image there is a one-and-a-half-hour window every day when it is inauspicious to start a job or perform a heavy task. The whole thing has been highly mythicized but the logic behind it has always been to find out the time when it is most logical to perform a task that requires high mental focus and physical energy. During Rahu Kaal, these are at their alertness is at its lowest and our mind is not at peace. Why do you think Hindus are advised to meditate during this time? Ask a Tibetan monk and he’ll tell you the same.

Early Bird or Night Owl – Who is Better?

The fact of the matter is that just like introverts and extroverts, morning people and night people can’t exist independently of each other. Striking a balance amongst our various personalities and with the external world as well, is necessary to exist and excel in this ever-changing world. I’m not against waking up in the morning or starting your day early. Sometimes waking up in the morning makes sense while at other times the night is when you must do your best to finish your work. What I’m against is the assumption that being an early bird is the only route to success there is. I detest being put in a set bracket and that’s what happens to us night owls. Just because of the running tradition of society many like me are forced to work in the daytime when we are not at our best.

Being a writer the muse hits me at weird times and more often than not I find myself writing a poem or a story in the middle of the night. I reckon it is not important what time of the day you work; it’s important that you do. Lord Krishna has said that accepting someone else’s opinion is not necessary but respecting it is essential. So whether you can understand the concept of working at night or not, I urge you to atleast let us be who we are. And for the night owls, I say: I’ll see you in the dead of the night.

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