Ruminations of a Night Owl

A bad habit of mine is going to bed later than necessary. This habit dates back to at least my elementary school days, because for as long as I can remember, I have enjoyed sleeping in on my days off. In other words, I am a night owl.

The first question to be asked is why I go to bed later than necessary. The answer is that I am never doing anything that warrants such behavior. Typically, it is because I am engaged in frivolous activities such as browsing and viewing YouTube videos. As many people have discovered, this is a dangerously addictive activity, because viewing one video leads to another, and another… and so on. We tell ourselves “I’ll just watch one more video, then I’ll call it a night.” In reality, though, this becomes an endless cycle.

Occasionally, the reason for a late night is watching a movie on Netflix. One of the good points of this service is that it allows us to resume viewing from a moment of our choosing. However, there are times when a film is so utterly engrossing that we cannot stand to wait another day to conclude our viewing. On such occasions, we end up staying up past our intended bedtime hour to find out how the story resolves itself.

A third reason is the need to unwind on workdays. It simply isn’t feasible to arrive home, take a shower and hop straight into bed. We need some time to ourselves to catch up with the latest sports news or social media gossip, accompanied by a late night snack.

Next, let’s explore the consequences of this bad habit. Physically speaking, we will be fighting feelings of tiredness the day after a late night. Mentally speaking, our minds won’t be as sharp as they would have been after a long, refreshing sleep. We can fight these effects to a certain extent, by consuming copious amounts of caffeine. As a coffee lover, it is something that I would most likely do as part of my routine anyway. There is still no substitute for a good night’s sleep, though.

A further consequence of too many late nights is an increased susceptibility to falling ill. The body’s immune system is weakened when it doesn’t have the opportunity to recover. Conversely, I have found that getting a good night’s sleep makes a bigger difference to recovering from an illness than taking medicine does.

Finally, let’s address the cure to this problem. Part of the solution is simply to have more self-discipline. When your body is telling your brain that it needs sleep, but you click on a link to watch another YouTube video, you are blatantly ignoring your own feelings. Another remedy is to switch off the computer and other electronic devices at an earlier time and start reading a book instead. It might be preferable if the book is not so interesting, because the onset of tiredness will begin faster and more naturally.

In summary, being a night owl is a condition that can be overcome. Furthermore, it has negative consequences for our health that are entirely avoidable.



rumination (adj.) – a deep or focused thought on something
frivolous (adj.) – lacking any real purpose or importance
engrossing (adj.) – extremely interesting
copious (adj.) – in large amounts
susceptible (adj.) – easily influenced or affected by something