How To Become a Highly Productive Night Owl

Being an early riser has its benefits, but it isn’t for everyone. Some of humanity’s greatest minds (Voltaire for example) were renowned for sleeping in. Depending on personality, environment, and work schedule, being an early riser may not be practical.

A few months ago I gave early rising a try. I was able to wake up 1-1.5 hours earlier, but I couldn’t adjust to the early bed time. Each night around 10:00, no matter how tired I’d felt that day, my mind became active and I was unable to shut down until after 12:00. After a few weeks, sleep deprivation set in and I went back to my normal sleep pattern.

For those of us who experience a late night surge of mentally activity, waking before 6 a.m. can lead to exhaustion. Sleep schedule depends on many factors and is subject to change, but it’s important to find what works for you. Fortunately, those of us who aren’t suited to early rising can be just as productive by utilizing those quiet evening hours.

Late rising isn’t automatically beneficial. It has a negative connotation because, if poorly managed, sleeping late leads to perpetual grogginess and wasted days. Here are few strategies I’ve developed for effective late rising.

Don’t Over Sleep

The biggest temptation with late rising is to over sleep. Too much sleep is a bad thing. Rather than feeling more rested, it makes you lethargic. Having a regular wake up time is just as important for night owls as it is for early risers. If you don’t set a schedule, you’ll have a hard time being productive.

Don’t Sleep Too Late

Along the same lines, I’ve found that late rising is best in moderation. Sleeping until mid-afternoon can ruin an entire day. It throws off your biological clock, leaving you mentally dull, and makes it harder to get to sleep at a reasonable hour the following night. For me, the ideal wake up time is between 8:00 and 10:00 a.m. This gives me a chance to get the 6-8 hours of sleep that I need without oversleeping or losing too much of the day.

Set a Cut Off Time

The challenge with being productive at night is that it’s hard to wind down. This can lead to late nights that throw off your schedule. The way to manage this is setting a cut off time. I set my cut off time for an hour before bed time, usually around 11:00-11:30. After the cut off time I stop working and wind down. I switch to mentally relaxing activities like minor household chores and light reading. I’d also recommend avoiding television and the computer completely. The brightness of the screen can trick your brain into thinking it’s day. Although there will always be those nights when I ride a rush of creativity until 3:00 or 4:00 a.m., it’s better to make that the exception.

Schedule Around Your Energy Cycle

To maximize productivity it’s important to leverage the natural peaks of your energy cycle. Late rising works best for people who peak in the evening. If this is the case, you should create a schedule that lets you work at night. I’ve found mid-mornings to be productive, so I’ve built my schedule around a morning and evening shift.

After getting up around 8:00 or 9:00, I eat breakfast and work for 3-4 hours. By early afternoon my energy fades and I switch from creative work to less demanding tasks like responding to email, reading feeds, and running errands. Around 8:00 p.m. I have another energy peak and work the night shift until my cut off time at 11:00. Although it can be tough to schedule around a 9-5 job, you can probably figure out a way to take advantage of your evening energy peak by working from home or on side projects.

Take Advantage of Distraction Free Evenings

Early risers rave about the productivity of the wee morning hours before the rest of us wake up. Late risers have a similar advantage on the other end. By working in the evening we can avoid the distractions of meetings, email, and other demands. For me, the evening is when I’m able to break free from the outside world and immerse myself in mentally challenging work. Some people can’t concentrate at night, but I’ve found it’s the easiest time get into creative work flow without interruption.

It’s all about finding what works best for you. As a night person in his early 20’s with roommates who tend to keep late hours, I found early rising problematic. As I get older and my living situation evolves, it’s entirely possible I’ll join the 5 a.m. club. Until then I’ll continue to take pride in being a highly productive night owl.

If you enjoyed this post, please bookmark it with!


Erin shows overscheduled, overwhelmed women how to do less so that they can achieve more. Traditional productivity books—written by men—barely touch the tangle of cultural pressures that women feel when facing down a to-do list. How to Get Sh*t Done will teach you how to zero in on the three areas of your life where you want to excel, and then it will show you how to off-load, outsource, or just stop giving a damn about the rest.

13 Responses to How To Become a Highly Productive Night Owl

  1. Hi Erin,

    Thanks for a great article, and even though it was written a long time ago, I think it still holds true today.

    I’ve struggled to discover whether I’m a night owl or a morning lark for many years.

    I guess this is down to working the 9-5 grind for a long time and getting used to being up at 6am every morning.

    However, ever since I have worked for myself, and from home, I’ve been unsure of whether rising early was the right thing for me.

    I’m much the same as you, and tend to have a surge of energy first thing in the morning, so this is a great time for me to be creative and get lots done.

    I too suffer that mid-afternoon lull, but once again come alive later in the day.

    I haven’t actually altered my sleeping patterns that much, as I manage to squeeze enough hours of work in during what most would consider “normal hours” (I usually finish work by around 8pm). But I’m not sure if I’m leaving some of my creativity on the table by not carrying on while my mind is still very active.

    However, I’m willing to slowly change my sleep cycle in small increments and experiment to see whether I work better later in the day.


  2. Bryanwsy says:

    China’s detained ‘guerrilla feminists’

    and they both Chinese women online suffer from grave sicknesses has coronary problems and intense liver organ virus and truly gone after a doctor’s detention core. Their counsellors repeat their state surely have worsened throughout their amount of time in detention.

    through a Beijing eating place, my wife and i met several actwho has beenvahead of thests scheduled detademonstrationned simply lower presented. that she asked over us to in no way say your lover character, dreading executive reprisals.

    “i came to be totally afraid when individuals first detained was but this time i believe something i didheart-felt, this person told me.

    “yet,yet somehow we’re somewhat interested in what can happen to average. if they are sentenced to in time jail it’ll be a heavy hair to the migration,

    When i asked the ex if, perhaps she’d protest when again, my friend answered: “now I would not do what’s required once very bad this protesting roads. We may have to change the actual tactic. although the exercise will continue,

    although maturing meeting place judgments, effect neglecting to push out a each of our activists.

    talking in yesterday evening, Hua Chunying, A spokeswoman for China’s new ministry, understood: “No one has the authority to ask offshore to liberate similar customers, then produce your own,hopefully you like that many individual those will stop interfering in China’s judicial in their normalvereignty manner,

    yet,yet somehow involving story is part of what on earth may possibly explained a persons protection under the law test groups as China’s worst attack latest times reminiscence.

    ‘Terrifying time’Since going to electric powered two prohibited, director Xi Jinping’s governance maintains secured it down newspaper writers, couselors, NGO staff members in addition activists among all beating.

  3. Looking forward to reading more. Great article. Thanks Again. Really Cool!.

  4. 68667 654504Oh my goodness! an remarkable post dude. Thanks a ton Nonetheless I will probably be experiencing issue with ur rss . Do not know why Not able to join it. Can there be everyone acquiring identical rss concern? Anybody who knows kindly respond. Thnkx 192398

  5. This was an awesome article. Thanks so much for writing it. I’ll return to see some more. 女性 用 ダッチワイフ

  6. 스모크밤273 says:

    The best e-cigarette liquid site in Korea. Korea’s lowest-priced 전자담배 액상 사이트 e-cigarette liquid.
    스모크밤273 스모크밤

  7. 스모크밤936 says:

    전자담배 액상 사이트 The best e-cigarette liquid site in Korea. smok25 Korea’s lowest-priced e-cigarette liquid. 스모크밤936 스모크밤

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.