My 8 is your 6.

I can’t fight it any longer. I thought I could conform. But I’m relenting and just letting it be the way it is.

I, Zoe, am here to announce that not only am I a night owl, but I am not an early morning person. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy being awake in the morning. It’s not like if I wake up at 11am, I’m pissed off. But I’ve come to the conclusion that pretty much anything before 8am is awful and unnecessary. For me. You could be bright and chipper at 5am and if that works for you, that is fantastic. I don’t understand it but I will still applaud anyone who is able to follow their own body’s natural rhythms.

I like to stay up late – I always have. In high school, when classes started at dawn (8am sharp), I still went to bed at midnight to get up at 6 or 6:30. I remember standing in the shower, freezing cold as I had been wrenched from my warm bed and trying to get the water super hot, while at the same time also doing everything in my power to not give in and sit down on the shower floor and doze. (I gave in to this temptation on occasion, not gonna lie.)

I’m pretty sure I am a third generation night owl. Both of my parents have never been early-to-bed people. My dad is much less a night owl now than my mom, but my mom and her sisters are definitely late night people, where going to bed early is 1am.

For whatever reason, I “come alive” after 10pm. If I start doing something that absorbs my attention and energy (like editing photos, for example), I can do this for hours and not look up at the clock until it’s well after 12:30. The opposite happens for me if I’m up before 7:30 or 8am – I am completely dead and lethargic and I have to use every fiber of my being to stay awake and not be angry that I’m awake.

My problem is, is that even though my better judgment tells me to pack up and go to sleep, my inner night owl is shrieking at me. It’s throwing a temper tantrum at the thought of going to bed before 12am. And honestly, going to bed at midnight and getting up at 8 is totally reasonable for me. That feels natural. But for modern day society where a decent work hour begins at 8 or 8:30am, this becomes an issue. I have lost count how many times I’ve tried setting the alarm for 6:45 or even 7:15, vowing that tomorrow is going to be THE DAY I start my new waking-up-early routine. It never lasts.

Waking up early is like going on the South Beach Diet. You can stay strict for about a week or two before you totally lose your mind and binge on carbs. (You know what I mean.) I just can’t keep at it.

Those who have no problem waking up at 6am or earlier? That’s great – really. (Baffling! But great.) Essentially, your 6 is my 8. Eight o’clock is still a totally reasonable time to be up and get productive before it’s lunchtime. However, we’re strapped in by society’s demands that we all show up at an unreasonably early hour to get our day started. If I had my own business, I’d have the official work day start at 9:30 or 10. 9:30 is pushing it, though. My first job out of college, the work day started at 10am. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. People actually thought you were strange if you showed up before 10. I’m serious.

The only way this “natural body rhythm plan” of mine can work is if my dearest other half doesn’t mind if I start doing a bed-at-midnight-rise-at-8am schedule. I haven’t exactly consulted him about it yet. But I suppose he’ll read this post and then we’ll have a little chat. (Did I mention he likes to go to bed and get up early? He could sleep from 7pm-7am, though. He’s a sleeper.)

For the time being, I can bask in the knowledge that getting up at 8 still affords me to get to work by 9 since I don’t live in a city with tons of congestion during rush hour. I refuse to feel guilty or shunned about this any longer. I am freeing myself of the bonds of waking-up-earlydom. Eight is early enough, dammit.

So yeah, that’s pretty much it. Let freedom ring. Thank you and enjoy your weekend.

P.S. What’s up with early bird vs. night owl? Why has the bird become THE animal symbol on this topic?


  1. Kevin Schneider says:

    I would like to point out that my sleeping a lot is merely my way to make up for years of insomnia. I’m evening things out.

  2. P.S. What’s up with early bird vs. night owl? Why has the bird become THE animal symbol on this topic?


  3. it’s like the south beach diet. Haha love it

    I’ve always been the early rising type but I think it’s just because I feel like I’m “wasting my day” if I’m not up by 6? I don’t get it…I mean if I wake up early I am exhausted by the time lunch comes around so it would be better to just stay in bed a bit longer in the first place!

    • Yeah, I think a lot of it is psychological. But if we all get 8 hours of sleep a night and are on the same kind of schedule throughout the day, it’s really no different. Since I’m not a farmer, I think it’s safe to say that liberating myself to an 8am wake-up schedule is okay.

      (You should do what makes you feel good! If you like getting up early, then do it!)

  4. Hello
    I always enjoy reading your thoughts. You could perhaps record them digitally ( I believe this is the current jargon). Then I can download them and listen to them while I am sleeping as I think it might help… especially if you were to read some nice poetry. Just like you I really hate that time when you wake up too early when even an early bird would draw the line.Every fibre of your body says… what the heck are you awake for!! Be sensible and return to pleasant slumbers in dreamland.
    Remember as well if you dare that the early bird catches the worm and EATS IT. Having said that of course the night owl is indeed not averse to a mole or a mouse itself.
    I just wish I knew what the heck I am talking about. I want to either watch a bit of the goggle box or have a kip.I should be mowing the lawn, doing some food shopping, painting a ceiling. But like I said … it is also very enjoyable reading your thoughts.

    • Kris, you’re too kind! I’m so glad you like coming back and reading. I am truly honored to have regular readers such as yourself. When I started this blog almost three years ago, I said to myself, “How on earth will I ever gain more than a handful of readers whom I don’t know personally?” And it’s happening and it’s just lovely.

      Maybe one day I’ll put my “blog on tape” – you may be the only person interested, though! I will say, however, that those who do know me personally have told me that they can hear my inflection in my writing and perhaps that’s why they can also get more enjoyment out of it.

      I do hope you’re having a lovely day over there – what’s a kip? My guess is either a drink or some kind of fish? Haha!

      • A kip means to sleep …. a wee nap.
        It has been raining here for most of the day … but that still makes it lovely I guess!
        By the way … here is a sleep pattern.

  5. BadAssAunt says:

    Oh this hits a nerve! I have NEVER been able to deal with 8 am commitments, be it a class, a meeting, or just “showing up” at the office. As it is now, I have made all kinds of excuses for myself to cover for the fact that my brain DOES NOT FUNCTION before 9 am! Even if I am in bed by 11 (which is tough). It starts with the dread of tiptoeing into the workplace around 9, hoping no one notices, knowing they will. Especially that perfect perky blonde with the corner office who undoubtedly whines about my tardiness to the boss. Then I have to endure the jokes and jabs of the interns who flank my workspace, all the while I am thinking, “WHATEV douchebags. I am over 50, so suck it.” The anxiety that mounts as I press the accelerator thinking I can get to the office in 10 minutes instead of 18, and as I achingly climb the stairs trying not to grunt, and as I place my sweaty hand on the door handle to the labyrinth of workerbees, inevitably has me berating myself, wondering what the hell is wrong with me, what makes ME different or special, and vowing that this has to stop (as the office manager has admonished me for countless times). I promise that tomorrow will be different – I will show them! I will be there at 7, or no…promptly at 8, no wait, 8:30 should work…and I find myself on the crapper the next morning at 8:40 doing a crossword puzzle and wondering if I can still sneak in a shower.
    The radical acceptance approach of “this is me, deal with it” doesn’t go far when it comes to promotions and raises. Sadly, conformance or self-employment appear to be the only ways out. I was told I could change my official hours from 8-5 to 9-6, but then with a finger wag…”but that means you HAVE TO STAY UNTIL SIX.” WTF! Sometimes I wonder how the world ever got this way, where we have to feel guilty just for wanting to live according to our own rhythms, desires, and values.
    If you can declare yourself Miss Z and be embraced for it, I am HAPPY for you!!

  6. I really have to wonder why anybody at the office (okay, maybe besides the boss) even cares what time you come and go. What’s it to them? How does it ruin their day? It’s not like you’re calling out three times a week. Not only that, but the interns are mocking you?

    I cracked up at, “Then I have to endure the jokes and jabs of the interns who flank my workspace, all the while I am thinking, ‘WHATEV douchebags. I am over 50, so suck it.’”

    It’s nice that you were offered a change to your “official” work hours. Having a flexible work schedule at my current place (though I try not to show up later than 9:30) is truly a gift. One more step towards freedom!

  7. Im natural night owl AND a sleeper, I can sleep for 12 to 13 hrs straingh but my bf is an early bird, up at 5.30 and bed by 10.30 at the latest, and I find myself falling into routine with him which is good as I do seem to get more done in the morning but one slip (lie in or late night) and Im back to my old ways of late to bed and late to rise! Its so hard to maitain sometimes that i really think i should just stick to the natural instinct in me! x

    • I say stick to the instinct buuuut I will also say that it’s nice to wake up and have a morning with someone. Unfortunately, if my dude tried getting me out of bed at 5:30, there would be blood.

  8. Kevin Schneider says:

    Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise! I just made that up. SRSLY.

  9. Well, knowing me the way you do, you know that while I’d love to be a night owl, those days were never in the cards for me. I’ve been waking up no later than 5 AM since I was 10 years old and started a paper route (yes! they have those in NYC and kids did them!). I’d wake up at the asscrack of dawn, fold up all the papers, deliver them, come home, shower, get ready for school, and off I went. School started particularly early for me, too, at 7:25 AM on some days. However, the automatic pubescent night owl within me lived on. So I’d operate on 2-3 hours of sleep often times.

    By the time I got to working where I work now, the hours were the same. Working in a surgical department, the OR starts at 7:30 AM on average. So to have any meetings, get anything done, get everyone in the same room, we’d often have 6 AM meetings.

    Then came going back to school. So getting to work at 6 AM didn’t afford me to opportunity to go home and be a grandpa! I was in class until at least 9 PM for 4 years straight (fall, winter, spring and summer semesters!).

    When school finally ended and I no longer had any late night obligations (and have aged some – not that I’m old but I’m OLDER and not into going out like I used to), I find it hard to stay up late if I’m just putzing around. If I’m not in bed by 10-10:30 PM, I REALLY feel it in the morning when my alarm goes off at 5:10 AM. And there’s no snoozing. It’s JUMP out of bed and have 20 mintues to catch the train and be in the office. I don’t miss a wink of sleep with snooze or any of that nonsense. It just doesn’t work for me.

    While I used to enjoy getting in early because I’d get out early, I now work 10 hour shifts so I get in early and get out the regular time as everyone else. So if I were to come in later, I’d just get out that much later – which ain’t cute! (plus that whole little surgical department starting early problem!)

    SO, yes, I’m finally ending my life story…while I’m beyond tiring of the getting up early and STILL don’t always go to bed in enough time to give me the amount of sleep I need, this getting up early thing is getting old. Older than me. It’s MAKING me old. I want to become a night owl again.

    BTdubs, waking up at 11 AM, for the most part, would piss me off!!!

    • Yeah but wouldn’t waking up at 11 piss you off because you’d feel as if you’d wasted half the day already? Waking up at 5 since you were 10… brain can’t even wrap around that. I got out of bed this morning….at 8….and was still groggy and yawning.

      Also, you only need 20 minutes to get ready in the morning? Holy crap. I need 90-120 minutes, no joke. Ask Kevin!

      • Kevin Schneider says:

        You don’t *need* 90-120 minutes, you just *use* 90-120 minutes. I used to wake up 7 minutes prior to having to be at work.

  10. Uh huh – don’t get me started on the quality of your life BZ (before Zoe).


  1. […] people would shrug at getting to work at 8am, but as I have previously–and emphatically–stated, I am not a “be someplace at 8am” type of […]

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