‘Why am I more productive at night than in the morning or during the day?’ I used to ask myself this question when I got frustrated with my body and brain for keeping me alert, awake, and active past the time I was supposed to sleep. I even tried several ways to overcome insomnia so I could become a morning person.
What I didn’t know then is that there are several good reasons why some people are more productive at night than during the day. These kinds of people are called night owls, and I was, and still am, one of them.
While there is nothing wrong with being a night owl, especially if you ensure you still get your 8-10 hours of sleep each day, it can sometimes affect your personal, professional, and social life negatively.
For example, not many employers allow their employees to work whenever they want, and some jobs may simply be impossible to do at night, especially if you have to collaborate with colleagues or deal with clients directly.
I am somehow lucky to be able to take advantage of my night hours to work because I am currently self-employed. But I once lost a job for not being a morning person and having low productivity in the morning hours.
If you are like me and you usually struggle to be at your best during the daytime, this post will explain some of the reasons why you are more productive at night than during the day. Read on…
Reasons Why You Are More Productive at Night than During the Day
- There are fewer distractions at night
For parents with young children, people whose workplace or home is near a busy street, and those who have to work with colleagues who constantly interrupt them, getting any significant amount of work done during the day may be impossible.
The people, noise, and things around you may interrupt your thought process and progress as you work. As such, one of the reasons why you are more productive at night than during the day is that you have fewer distractions and decreased sensory stimulation at this time.
You are more creative and productive while working at night because there is probably nothing and no one else around you besides your tools of work.
- You have some freedom
The freedom to work as little or as much as you want may be the best answer to the question, ‘Why am I more productive at night than during the day?’
When working during the day, perhaps you usually have to follow a schedule, do some assigned tasks, and struggle to meet deadlines set by others. If this describes you, your daytime performance and productivity may be affected due to the pressure to achieve the targets set for you.
However, your employer most likely doesn’t expect you to work at night, and there are probably no goals you need to achieve at the end other than those you set for yourself.
The reduced pressure and a sense of freedom to do things your way at your own pace may be the reasons why you are more productive at night than during the day. Without a supervisor hovering over your shoulder reminding you of deadlines, you will also be more creative when working at night.
- Being a night owl is in your genes
Yes, another reason why you are more productive at night than during the day may come down to that being just your nature.
Studies indicate that some people have a gene mutation that makes them have sleeping problems. They cannot fall asleep early no matter how much they may wish or try to.
The next time you feel frustrated that you are still awake in the wee hours of the night, stop beating yourself up. Being awake and more productive at night than during the day may be just how you are, and you can’t change it.
Instead of getting frustrated trying to turn yourself into a morning person in vain, you can embrace being a night owl and start a business or look for a job that allows you to do your duties at night because that’s when you work best.
- Your circadian rhythm dictates it
If you want to get the most work done, you need to understand your circadian rhythm and plan your life according to it.
So what is the circadian rhythm?
The circadian rhythm is the internal 24-hour clock in our brain that regulates our sleep-wake cycle in response to changes in the temperature and light in our surroundings. Eating late at night, drinking coffee, and being exposed to bright lights could disrupt your circadian rhythm and make you stay awake longer.
Since everyone’s internal clock varies, your circadian rhythm could be one of the reasons why you are more productive at night than during the day. You are naturally inclined to be more alert and focused during the later hours of the day than in the morning.
As a night owl, you can train your circadian rhythm and become a morning person by following a strict schedule and routine. But though you may get some work done in the morning, you could still not be at your best.
Despite trying to reset your circadian rhythm, you may still be most alert and more productive at night because of your genetic makeup and chronotype.
- Your ultradian rhythms occur naturally at night
Ultradian rhythms are other possible reasons why you are more productive at night than during the day.
Unlike your circadian rhythm, ultradian rhythms are cycles that repeat in less than 24 hours but ones that also affect your productivity. They are the reasons we have 90-110-minute alternating periods of high and low productivity, determined by our level of alertness, focus, and energy.
So what do the ultradian rhythms have to do with night owls and morning people?
If you are a night owl, the heightened productivity period usually kicks in during the afternoon, evening, or later hours. You feel refreshed and have increased energy, focus, and alertness at this time, which explains why you are more productive at night than in the morning.
- The melatonin hormone is released too late
This is related to your circadian rhythm. Your internal clock not only regulates your sleep-wake cycle but also hormone production, especially melatonin (the hormone that makes you sleepy) and cortisol (the hormone that makes you alert). This process is different for morning people and night owls.
As a morning person, your body releases more melatonin at night than during the day. You also produce lower levels of the cortisol hormone at night but more in the morning, which makes you more alert, enabling you to work better at this time. The opposite happens for night owls.
The reasons why you are more productive at night could be that the cortisol doesn’t drop as it should at night, and you secrete melatonin much later than you are supposed to when it is already close to morning. You will stay alert and awake until this happens, hence why you work better at night than in the morning.
‘Why am I more productive at night than in the morning or daytime?’ If you were asking yourself this question, hopefully, you have found an answer above. But just to summarize, your genetics, a sense of freedom, your circadian rhythm, fewer distractions, ultradian rhythms, and your hormones could be the reasons why you are more productive at night than in the morning or during the day.
Being a night owl is not bad, but it can have some disadvantages, especially when it comes to your health and performance at work or in school. To prevent this from being the reason you miss out on opportunities or self-sabotage, there are ways you can train yourself to become a morning person.
If that doesn’t work, you can embrace your nature and find ways to make the best of your ability to be more creative and productive at night. Starting your own business or looking for a job with more flexible work hours are great alternatives for night owls who can’t change or adjust.
Since you now know the reasons why you are more productive at night, change where you can and take advantage of your optimal time for working to get most of your tasks done. Even as a night owl, you can still be successful in this ‘early risers’ world’.
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