“Nightlifer” is my preferred term for those who are awake while others sleep. However, I will continue to use “night owl” for the sake of clarity. I do hope, one day, the term nightlifer becomes the accepted term.
Is Being a Night Owl Really a Disorder?
After extensive research on Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder (DSPS), I am feeling a little down. As much as I appreciate the support, literature and studies on the subject of sleep, I am having a hard time accepting the fact that I have a disorder. Do I need to be fixed? Or better yet, do I want to be fixed? And is a treatment for delayed phase sleep disorder what is best for those diagnosed and, perhaps the more important question we should be asking, is curing those of their delayed sleep phase disorder what is best for society? I understand that as much as I embrace my unorthodox circadian rhythm, there are others, like me, who are desperate for a fix. I get it. The life of a night owl is often riddled with isolation, inconvenience and harsh judgement from others. But with support, effort and education we can bring awareness to the struggles night owls face and the benefits of accommodating their needs.
However, before we expect daylifers to accept our place in the world, night owls must first accept themselves.
Nighttime is the Best Time
I know my enthusiasm for the night perplexes a lot of people. Night is for sleeping. Why can’t I be like everyone else and let the sun be my guide through life. Well, technically the sun is my guide—when it disappears, I get a burst of energy that enables me to continue working long after everyone else has petered out. Granted, I rise a little later than most, but there are enough people scrambling about in the mornings—I would just be in the way. I can’t imagine myself taking pills or mulling through years of therapy so that I, too, can live a life of traffic, phone calls, meetings, crowds, queue lines and sunburn. Been there, done that. Therefore, if my disorder affords me a life of peace, quiet, freedom and unencumbered creativity, then so be it. I’mokaywith my night owl status and all the term implies.
Society Needs Night Owls
Not only do some daylifers find us enigmatic, we seem to get on their nerves. Maybe their jealous. After all, night owls are known for being moresocial, creative, intelligent and adaptable. Or, maybe they believe we couldn’t possibly be productive and useful members of society. After all, our efforts often go unnoticed. Still, we can’t blame the daylifers—they’re sleeping, and it’s hard for them to embrace the fact that a day is 24 hours and not the conventional 14 to 16 hours they’re awake. Granted, the sun dictates the most active time for humans, but even thousands of years before the invention of the light bulb, someone had to sacrifice sleep for survival. Someone had to stay up and stoke the fire, watch out for saber tooth tigers, tend to the young, and protect the tribe from the enemies. These early humans possessed greater adaptability and evolved into night owls so they could protect other humans during their most vulnerable state—sleep. Being a night owl is not a disorder, it’s an evolutionary novel, which makes night owls adaptability a sign of intelligence.
Don’t Apologize, Be Active and Informative
So, night owls, stop apologizing. You are an important part of society, no matter what people are telling you. You are not lazy, unmotivated, unfit, mentally weak, and destined for an early death; and if you are, then your issues extend well beyond preferring the night. Be proud of your delayed sleep phase disorder and know that you are in good company. Embrace the advantages and your attitude will improve your mental and physical health. Just because certain studies claim that night owls have shorter life expectancies, doesn’t mean we have to prove them correct. Besides, those studies are riddled withflaws. You are who you are. Confront the ignorance, prove your worth and defend your lifestyle to all those that question your value. Society praises early risers (larks) for their ability to make the most of the day. Why can’t that same praise be given to those who make the most of the night? Who’s with me?