Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Night Owl or Early Bird?

Do you like to stay up late into the wee hours of the morning or go to sleep early and rise in the wee hours of the morning? Are you a night owl or an early bird? Sleep and waking modes are ruled by our Circadian rhythm, a term Wikipedia describes as "a roughly-24-hour cycle in the biochemical, physiological or behavioral processes of living entities, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria (see bacterial circadian rhythms)."

(Who knew cyanobacteria took cat naps?)

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I know more than a few other writers who are night owls like myself, but sometimes I wonder if this is simply due to many of us having day-jobs and families, so that late at night is the only opportunity we have to write. However, as a reader, I definitely enjoy reading more at night. Sometimes this does cause me to stay up late with a particularly good story, but overall I find reading relaxing and a beneficial transition to sleep. Maybe that's why some studies have shown that extended periods of reading have a similar effect on the brain as meditation does. In fact, if I've stayed up late writing, I often find myself reading a little bit before going to sleep. The activity seems to "cleans out my brain" and allow my brain to relax after the heavy lifting of writing.

On the flip side, I know plenty of people who prefer to rise early and get their writing time in before the day starts and muddles up their brain with day-to-day minutiae. Whether your preference is for early or late, I think both times feel like they're separate from the rest of the world and so insulated from our daily distractions.

What about you? When do you prefer to read or write? Late at night with the day behind you or waking up fresh in the morning?


Lisa Paitz Spindler's debut Science Fiction Romance will be released by Carina Press in Spring 2011. To keep up-to-date on news about this space opera novella (with pirates!) head on over to her Facebook Fan Page.

Starship Captain LARA SOTO left love-of-her-life Commodore MICHIO “MITCH” YOSHIDA eleven years ago when the Star Union forced all of her kind into mandatory military service — and he didn’t take her side. Lara’s kind are Chimerans, those born with a parent from each of the known parallel dimensions: Terra and Creed. When Terra’s S.U.S. Interlace goes missing with Lara’s brother on board, she must put aside the pain of betrayal and team up with Mitch to find him.


  1. I'm very much a late person. Late to bed, late to get up (when I can). I'd agree that it had to do with the job and writing, but I was this way even in high school. I'd go to bed at 9:30 but then just lie there until 11:00.

    I've also NEVER fallen asleep while reading and rarely while watching TV.

    I wish the world revolved more around us late-nighters! :-)

  2. I only fall asleep while watch TV if I'm ill. Something about the flickering pretty pictures keeps my brain awake. It's the same with reading. I'll read for hours and then realize how tired I am (at 2am) when I come up for air.

    If only I could sleep in every morning! What's up with that?

  3. I've never been an early riser. My mother loved it on Christmas -- she always had to wake me up until high school (and then I was only up by odd act of nature to sneak her sock out with everything else).

    I get tired faster reading/writing if I'm staring at a screen (been known to doze off mid-paragraph with my netbook in my lap on the couch). My eyes can't hold out all that long.

    But I have to force myself to put a book down some nights so I'm not a total zombie at work the next day. What sucks is come the weekend when I could be sleeping in I'm up way to dang early.

  4. I am a night owl. My brain takes a while to kick in so I do those horrid chores we all must endure during the morning and then settle down to writing and usually go up to bedtime. Now that I am older 'cough, cough' I find a short power nap keeps me going longer. :)

  5. I'm at my most creative in the late afternoon, but my day job keeps most of my weekday writing and/or reading time relegated to evenings.

    On weekends, I can take full advantage of my creative prime time.

  6. I was a night owl most of my life, but over the past few years (seemingly the result of long bouts of insomnia) my sleeping patterns have become extremely unpredictable. I still prefer to retire circa two a.m., but there are times when I crash well before midnight and and get up at the crack of dawn (like today). I can rise from bed from anywhere between five-thirty or six a.m. and twelve or one p.m.

  7. Night owl for sure, though sometimes my life makes me neither. LOL

    I have to fall to sleep to something, either tv or a show on the dvd player. It keeps my brain active, so I don't start worrying small details.

    I love to read at night, but if i start a story, i can't stop until i know how it ends, so i don't start a big book after 8.

  8. It depends on who is at home. Night owl if I'm alone. And DAY bird if the hubby's around. NEVER an early bird. Ever.


  9. I'm a morning person but I am addicted to reading in bed and a good book has been known to keep me up late. I love to read ebooks in bed on my pda(backlight and scroll!)


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