The world thinks very highly of people who get up early. They're famously the ones who get all the worms, which doesn't actually sound that great, unless it's a metaphor for something.
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Is it spaghetti? Is the metaphor spaghetti? Are you people who get up early eating tons of spaghetti?
I'm the opposite, a natural night owl with little interest in pecking at the ground for worms, even if that does present some disadvantages. Because staying up late is still regarded as a bit of an immature thing to do, a habit of energy-drink-fueled teens, wasting their lives Snapchatting pictures of their assholes to each other. Grown-ups are people who get up early and go to their businesses and do business stuff with briefcases and judge us shadow people with their judginess.
They'd think differently, though, if they knew our dark, yawning secrets.
I should clarify: this is the best time to get stuff done if that stuff doesn't require natural light. The nighttime is a pretty shitty time to do yard work, for example.
Or solar measurements.
But it's great for doing anything indoorsy, for a few possible reasons. Some studies have found that night owls are more creative than others, and sure that's flattering and all, in the way that cherry-picking studies that compliment you can be. But there's more to it than just innate creativity; when you're up late there are fewer people around to disturb you from your great works.
"This will be my masterpiece."
Slate did a great feature last year about the working habits of famous writers and artists, and they found that an inordinate number of them were either early birds or night owls. The probable reason for this is that it's far easier to get creative work done when no one else is awake to call you, or knock on the door, or hug you, or engage in some other awful bonding moment.
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I do a bit of writing myself, and I can tell you that a key step in the process of writing something good is first writing several things that are awful. It's the revisions where the magic happens, but you need something, even something awful, to revise in the first place. It's a lot easier to do this when no one else is around to see what your diseased mind has conjured; I honestly have no idea how people write in busy public places like coffee shops.
It couldn't be an affectation, could it?
And that doesn't even get into the really weird stuff that can be useful during the creative process. Physically talking to yourself is a great way to frame sentences and arguments before setting them down on the page, in much the same way that it's a great way to get kicked out of coffee shops. Even if you're in your home, it's a lot more mentally comfortable beaking at yourself after everyone else has gone to bed. Same deal with getting comfortable, whether it's sprawling across the couch or wearing your most comfortable, least socially acceptable clothes.
E.g., my composition support strap.
The other main reason the night is a great time to get stuff done is nothing else is going on. Television is famously garbage at night; with no one important watching, there's no reason for networks to air particularly good programming, leaving this the domain of infomercials and third-tier talk shows and movies you've seen many times before.
It is always worth feeling like crap the next day to see Casino again.
But even something as dynamic as the Internet gets pretty crappy late at night. None of your favorite websites are updating, leaving you with the same dull, hours-old content with every F5. Most of the online communities and social networking sites go into semi-hibernation as well, as do online games, if they don't fill up with people from countries that speak English all wrong.
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"You'd better not have told me to suck what I think you told me to suck."
And the food is way worse. No restaurants worth speaking of are open at this time, so night owls are stuck with whatever they can make themselves. And because other people in the house are sleeping, and we've got our great works to get back to, proper meals are usually forgone in favor of snacking. Corn snacks and corn-based beverages are typical, often supplemented by massive amounts of caffeine and whatever chemicals are needed to make them "fruitastic." Consider my energy drink of choice, which, no bullshit, includes the following ingredients:
Sodium benzoate, potassium sorbate, D-calcium pantothenate, niacinamide, inositol, anthocyanins, pyridoxine, and cyanocobalamin.
And, yeah, I know that using a long, scary chemical name to imply a product is dangerous is a cheap rhetorical trick; consider that acetic acid is nothing more than vinegar and dihydrogen monoxide is water. And, although I'm fully confident all of those chemicals have been approved for human consumption by a man with a clipboard -- a lot of the above are just colorings and vitamins -- holy shit does that ever look like a list of bomb ingredients.
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Which I credit for my explosive prose.
There are totally illegal substances with less complicated chemistry going on. Which might be another explanation for the creative surge night owls feel at night -- we're all lubed up with massive quantities of undiscovered hallucinogens.
Recent studies have found that people behave less ethically when they're tired. Night owls perform less effectively on moral tests during the morning, and early risers fare poorer in the afternoon. It requires mental effort to maintain self-control, which means we're more effective at it when we're full of energy and less so when we're tired. So, if you have business to conduct in the late afternoon, keep an eye out for any yawning and treacherous early-morning types.
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"Did you jog this morning?"
"I did, actu-"
"Get the fuck out."
But night owls aren't just tired in the morning, when we get up. We get tired at night too, after everyone else has gone to bed. Which means that we're awake, alone, and unable to behave ethically. I'm probably telling more than I should here, violating one of the many rules of Night Club (even talking about Night Club is kind of a no-no). But if you're not a night owl, it may surprise you to learn that around 2 o'clock every morning packs of night-dwellers begin roaming the streets, peering into your windows, stealing your car's wheels, urinating in your mailbox, and so on, et cetera, et cetera.
It's like the eighth or ninth rule of Night Club, I forget. (Forgetting the exact rules of Night Club is the second or third rule.)
Did you think it was a coincidence that so much crime happens at night? Did you think every bump and creek in the night was your house settling. Poor, silly, unconscious daywalkers. It was me and my brethren, climbing on your roof. We have no respect for your solar morals. We are fueled by our own strange ethical system, and, as discussed, corn-based chemical cocktails that whisper strange things to us.
The messages vary in length and complexity and can include navigational tips, astrological predictions, and instructions on how to subvert the countries of man. Theories range as to how only night owls know of these messages. There's actually quite a bit of evidence that night owls have higher levels of intelligence than other people, and thus might be better able to detect complicated patterns in the sky. The other possibility, that we're delirious from lack of sleep and also from eating spoiled food from your garbage, is so weakly supported by the evidence that I don't know why I even mentioned it.
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"DON'T LISTEN TO THEIR DOUBTING WORDS, CHRIS."
Most daywalkers don't know that science has shown that people who prefer staying up late get stronger as the night goes on. This so called "night strength" is believed by experts to be very useful when battling the Wraith Lords, mankind's ancient foes that emerge only in our darkest hour (every night around 4).
You may know the Wraith Lords by one of their other forms.
Every night the Wraith Lords scurry out of their shadowy nests, intent on destroying all that is good and right in the world. And while you sleep, myself and other brave, sleepy, possibly hallucinating youths push back these forces of darkness.
Many trash cans are tipped over in this eternal struggle.
You norms have no idea the cost of your freedom, the price us night owls pay every evening so that you will have a world to wake up to. So the next time one of your younger co-workers yawns during a morning meeting, spare them your mockery. Instead, look them squarely in the eye, nod, and whisper, "I love and respect you," to them. They deserve nothing less.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist and is still somehow permitted to walk the streets a free man. His first novel, Severance, is terrific and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.
For more from Bucholz, check out 4 Reasons People Hate It When You Compliment Them. And then check out 20 Types of People That Should Come With Warning Labelsv.
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