I have a truly horrible sleeping pattern. I can’t even trace back the exact period of time when it started, but I know exactly when it got worse – since I moved to England, that is a year and three months ago, that is since I started to write.
I can’t even remember the last time I went to bed before midnight but I can remember very clearly the last time I went to bed at three. Last night. And the one before. And the one before… As a consequence I usually wake up at around noon, sometimes later, meaning I don’t quite remember how mornings feel like. And now during the winter when days are shorter, sometimes I don’t even remember how a natural light feels like. I think I can call myself a night owl. A nachtmensch.
Recently I got into serious trouble. I realised I gradually became physically incapable of waking up early. Whenever I try to I fail, which causes me problems. There were several meetings and plenty of morning classes I missed (the latter does not bother me that much). So I tried an action plan and went to bed early. Didn’t help. I tried to wear myself out and went jogging or swimming in the evening. Didn’t help. The bed is my worst enemy in the night, but the best friend in the morning.
But I’ve got several explanations that justify my being a night owl. The other day I came across a term ‘social jetlag’. Unlike the real jetlag, social jetlaggers’ bodies are not incapable of functioning properly because of a messed up daily regime due to travelling across time zones, but instead they experience this state every day by being forced to change their natural sleeping pattern due to work, studying etc. I say natural because supposedly all people are programmed to be either early birds or night owls – it is in our genetics. I agree on this point and I really think some people are just not suited for a normal daily routine. But… define normal.
In order not to get too biological, I have my own explanation. What keeps me awake almost every night is the thought that something great might still happen today. I simply don’t want to say good bye to the old day in hope something amazing might still occur – a new thought, a new idea, a new information… This reminds me of a quote from one of my favourite books – Steppenwolf – by Hermann Hesse: “Once it happened, as I lay awake at night, that I suddenly spoke in verses, in verses so beautiful and strange that I did not venture to think of writing them down, and then in the morning they vanished; and yet they lay hidden within me like the hard kernel within an old brittle husk.” To avoid them to vanish I usually stay up and write them down. The best thoughts always come to me by night. I also really enjoy time when everyone else is asleep and the house, the street, everything is so quiet. It is the best time for me to write. And here I get to my other explanation – no writer has ever been an early bird. Or any artist I dare say. This is just a pure assumption and a huge generalisation but I believe it. I think there is a genuine correlation between creativity and staying up late.
Night is awesome, the best things in life happen at night. Nights out, street lights, creative thoughts, verses, sleep, dreams.
Let me close this post with another quote from Steppenwolf by genius Hesse: “By degrees during the afternoon he warmed and became alive, and only towards evening, on his good days, was he productive, active and, sometimes, aglow with joy.”