Monday, June 23, 2008

Who who whoooo's a night owl?

Valais by Night
Originally uploaded by Arsmor

Ok - the votes are in (though voting is still open for a couple more days if you haven't expressed a preference yet) and it looks like at least half of you enjoy reading things I write about myself - you bunch of voyeurs! In my desire to please all the people all the time here's another entry for the "stuff about me" category (lucky for you this mindset brings enough neuroses with it that you won't be suffering from a lack of reading material anytime soon).

I am a night owl's night owl. Right now as I write this, it is approaching three in the morning here and I'm not even close to being ready to go to sleep. Staying up this late on my own has gotten to be something of a luxury as of late. I go to bed most nights for companionship or because I feel like I'm supposed to - I can't remember the last time I went to bed (for the night - naps are not included in this) because I was tired and ready to sleep. At midnight, I'm just starting to get my brain and hands loosened up and the words and pictures are just starting to come out, but most days I force myself to go to bed around midnight because I get up when Mr K does at 7:30 and "everybody knows" I have to get some sleep.

What this means for me is my most productive hours are spent tossing and turning in bed, trying to talk myself into falling asleep. Some nights I hash out stories, letters, pictures, and blog posts, always intending to get them down on paper/screen the next morning but by the time I wake up (which I do poorly and very slowly) these images are usually gone. Sometimes I'll scribble down a tangle of notes to try and decipher the next morning - I usually write these in the dark and, as my handwriting is nearly impossible to read when I'm doing my best to be neat, in the morning I can't decipher a word of it. For all I know, in the past couple years I've found and lost the meaning of life, the nature of the universe and a couple hot stock tips - I'll never know.

Most of my best ideas come to me late at night, however I'm also one of those 3:00 AM crisis types. You know the type - in fact, you may be the type. Without fail, the clock hits three in the morning or so and my brain does some kind of crisis data-dump and decides to run through all possible worst-case scenarios, ranging from "what if I have no money in my bank next time I try to buy some I-tunes" to "what does it say about me as a person that my biological clock runs a bit slow - if at all" - it goes downhill from there. Existential crisis as a luge.

Ignoring that bit, in general I find staying up to all hours to be a mostly positive experience that I really enjoy. For me, sitting in the living room and feeling the breeze blowing in off the porch as it slides across my back is bliss. Listening to the fevered tapping of my sloppy hunt-and-peck typing in an otherwise unbroken silence is bliss. Being the only one awake gives me time to pay attention to all the little details I would otherwise miss due to the distractions that come with daylight and other people.

On a semi-side note, you know what else is bliss? Sitting on the floor in the kitchen, lit only by the light from the fridge, eating a bite or two of whatever leftover or other treat looks good. I'm pretty convinced food tastes best late at night, eaten in the kitchen, though I don't know why this should be. In my most recently written and wretchedly abysmal novel (woo hoo!), I noticed as I wrote that the main character was always eating in the middle of the night - I went on for pages and pages about it. It seemed whenever I got stuck for an idea, she got hungry. Well, all my writing books do say "write what you know..."

I have plenty more to say about insomnia and all the things that I've found that don't cure it, but I'll save that for another day. Sleep tight and sweet dreams - I'll be along in a few.

"Always take a big bite
It's such a gorgeous sight
To see you eat in the middle of the night"
R. Smith


Katie said...

yeah well it must be genetic b/c i am finding myself having HARD time sleeping at night (or napping during the day too... ugh!! any tips you wanna share are welcome!!!

Carl E said...

I've always been one of those people who believe that you should eat when your hungry, not when its time to eat. Same thing with sleep. If your dozing on the couch in the middle of the afternoon, why fight it? I'm nowhere near the night owl you are, but I admire your dedication!! :-)

Miz K said...

I think you may be right - though it's a fine line between eating when you're hungry and eating when you feel like being hungry. Like right now I could totally demolish a salami and cheese sandwich but I realize that it probably isn't actual hunger. I think I'll head to bed instead - night!

SquidViscous said...

Here's what works for me (when I want it to). However, in the interest of full disclosure I should note that I slept in an extra 90 minutes this morning and I do not usually follow my own rules.

1) Set your alarm for when you *should* be waking up.

2) You are not allowed to hit the snooze button and go back to sleep.

3) Get outside for a walk before breakfast. This helps set your internal clock and wake you up.

4) Naps are strictly forbidden.

5) No caffeine after noon, or preferably none at all.

6) No TV or exercise within an hour of bedtime

7) Turn the lights down within an hour of bedtime

8) Make sure your bed is comfy. If not, you may need a new bed.

9) You are not allowed to ruminate about things while you fall asleep. Tell yourself that you will deal with whatever it is in the morning and intentionally divert your thoughts to something else to break the thought cycle.

Hope that helps! It works for me, when I want it to.

Miz K said...

I've tried all that - doesn't work. Pills don't work. Exercising vs not exercising doesn't work. I'm finally just coming to terms with the fact that my clock runs differently. So did you enjoy the extra 90 minutes of sleep?!

SquidViscous said...

Yes I did, and I'm already looking forward to a nice nap this weekend :)