Saturday, May 3, 2014

The Sleep Dilemma: Why I Love and Hate Being a Night Owl

By Lacey Gunter

I have been a night owl for as long as I can remember. When I was a toddler, I remember my dad sitting in my room at night waiting for me to get to sleep. He did this out of love and concern for my health and well-being. But, he didn't quite understand how hard it was for me to actually get to sleep. Most nights I would just close my eyes and fake sleep until he left and then play pretend games in my bed until I finally did fall asleep.

Fast forward three decades later and I am still no better at getting myself to fall asleep. Only now I am the adult and I have no one to push me to at least try. My husband gave up that battle long ago.

I find this to be both a blessing and a curse. For a busy mom with three young kids and a part time job, this can mean a few extra hours to do the laundry, clean the kitchen and finish up a lecture or data analysis for work.  As long as I am pretty quiet, I can get a lot of things done while everyone else is asleep.

This is also the time where I get most of my research and writing done. I of course attend writer's groups and critique sessions during more reasonable hours, but without those night time writing sessions, my writing habit would be non-existent.

But my disdain for tossing and turning in bed waiting for sleep to finally be my friend again often results in me getting far less sleep than I should be. I would rather spend another hour perfecting that ending paragraph or researching another agent, than risk spending even 20 minutes in bed staring at the ceiling. But trading 20 minutes of sleeplessness for an hour of productivity means 40 minutes less of sleep time my body probably needed. Oh the dilemma!

I don't like this predicament.  If it were as easy as just working only an extra 20 minutes, I would do that. But the only way I have figured out how to consistently avoid battling for sleep is to work myself to exhaustion. And trust me I have tried all the oft recommended solutions with no luck. A better solution may be staring me in the face, but honestly, I am too sleep deprived to figure it out.
Well, if nothing else, society loves the stereotype of the troubled author, right? How can someone ever become a published author without some personal inner struggle. At least I can check that off my list. What's next?


  1. Oh boy, I definitely understand how you feel about this! This happens to me all the time. I often show up at work with only 3 hrs of sleep. One night a few months ago I went to work with 0 hrs of sleep. Occasionally I actually get something done staying up, mostly if something is weighing on my mind I will try to finish that task in the hopes that I'll be able to sleep afterwards. I actually did finish writing my romance novel on one of my insomniac nights. But usually I just lay in bed and practice breathing slowly and allowing myself to relax. Someone told me that a friend of hers was an insomniac, never really sleeping more than an hour or two at a time. The dr told her that just laying down and resting could be just as rejuvenating to her body as sleeping as long she rested for several hours. This has helped to take away my stress as I lay in bed staring at the ceiling. As my mind wanders from this thing to that thing, I remind myself that this is my chance to rest and not stress about anything. It's my time for quiet interflection. It's still annoying not to be able to sleep when I'm extremely tired. But instead I try to listen to my thoughts and see if the Lord is trying to tell me something. I usually read scriptures and spend a lot of the sleepless nights in prayer. This means those sleepless nights are my chance to reconnect with myself and my relationship with God. So I'm learning to be thankful for them and hate them a little bit less.

  2. I am not an insomniac but it does take me quite awhile to fall asleep at night. I love sleep and I try to get 8 hours a night, because without it I am short-tempered and spacey. My husband makes me so jealous- he can fall asleep at the drop of a hat. My side of the family calls him a narcoleptic. He actually once fell asleep in the middle of saying a prayer- yes, HE was the one saying it. He paused in a sentence and then started snoring. If we go to bed at the same time, I can literally say goodnight and then count down from 10 and by the time I hit 0 he is snoring. Which also doesn’t help me getting to sleep. ;-)

    Two things that help me- 1. Prayer. I always have a good long talk with God as I’m lying there. Helps me relax. 2. I once read a trick that works well for me- you imagine that someone is pumping sleeping gas through the vents in your house, so that every time you breathe in you are getting sleepier and sleepier. You can kind of trick yourself into falling asleep. Crazy.

    I think it’s a writer thing, though. We just can’t turn our brains off.

  3. There is no way I will ever be a night owl I am in bed bloody early most nights some nights it is an effort to stay awake till 8pm

    1. You are just like my husband. Hopefully mornings are just as productive for you.



Related Posts with Thumbnails