Are you a night owl or a morning worm or whatever they’re called? (Early bird?) Society seems to like it if we fit neatly into one or the other and I think I’m probably more night owl but not because I’m particularly good at staying up late and then fighting fit the next day, its just that I’m less good at getting up early and I feel a strange affinity with the night time. To me, night time is a mystical time. Normal service is on pause. The pressure is off. Day workers allow themselves to unwind and go to bed, nightworkers join a unique workforce of people working during the quiet hours, the graveyard shift. Roads are quieter. Films are more exciting. Radio voices are sultry. The pace has slowed. Have I lost you yet? Stay with me.
Last night was a bad night. Our youngest was up at in the very early hours and had an unsettled hour before he fell back to sleep again. My husband and I shared the ‘settling’ in this bit of time in a space that wasn’t quite ‘dead of the night’ but was still too early to be accepted as morning. When morning came, we got up as normal but it felt fuzzy and it felt like it had been a strange night. Do you ever have nights like that? I have them every now and again, and not always because the kids are awake.
The children are both under five so they’re still learning how to cope with getting to sleep and seeing that sleep through to the morning. It isn’t uncommon for the first part of the night to punctuated with brief wake-ups, one or both padding down the landing to the top of the stairs, and the occasional crying spell. And it is quite usual for one of them to appear at the side of the bed in the early hours of the morning. Loose rule we work to is that if it is before 5am, we take them back and if its after 5am we let them stay.
So last night’s longer bit of being awake for our youngest cast a foggy spell over the night and had me thinking, whilst brushing my teeth and again on my drive to work, that although I’m a bit of a night owl, it perhaps is not the way I’m designed to be. My body doesn’t welcome it. I tend to stay up later than I’m comfortable with. I get very tired, I watch films, I surf the net, I write blog posts. My mind doesn’t stop, I know this. But also I know that it is largely due to craving some grown-up adult time as well. Once the kids are in bed, the last thing I want to do is have to go to bed myself not long after, but physically I often feel that it might be the best course of action. Even when they were babies, I stayed up late after they had gone down for the first 2-3 hours of their night time sleep, because I wanted some indulgent, grown-up time before the next feed/change. I didn’t want to waste it sleeping. I realise how strange this sounds. Maybe night owls are peculiar that way.
If any of this rings familiar, maybe you are a night owl too?
I think I’ve always been like this. As a child, I found it difficult to sleep. I would lie awake long after the sounds of the house were reduced to a gentle hum. I was desperately jealous of my siblings who fell to sleep as their heads hit the pillow, whilst I would think and think and think about how on earth I could fall asleep. Ultimately, sleep always took me, but I hated that first bit of the night. It got better as I got older but then university happened and there is no better way to shatter the peace of your sleep than having no routine. I slept during the day, I partied at night. I even studied at night. After all the dancing at the discotheque, I would turn on my computer and write my assignments. Maybe it was my optimum time for study. Who knows.
Before we had the kids, I went through a phase of not being able to sleep again. A sort of temporary insomnia, where I would creep downstairs in the middle of the night, get a bowl of cereal, and watch the BBC news channel.
I do think there is something in the fact that we are either night owls or early birds. Whilst everything in my physical make-up is saying the late nights and little sleep make me feel tired, I still find myself inclined towards restless nights full of thoughts, which just feel like moments of fog the next day as I continue my day with the rest of the world.
Its night time now and in true form I’m ignoring the tired and watching the film. Hoping to reach the end. Hoping to stretch out this time as long as I can. Hoping not to feel too tired in the morning.