On the night owl and early riser spectrum, I’d say I’m very much an early riser — to my chagrin on the weekends — and an occasional night owl. Then some days, I wake up at that odd time when today and tomorrow seem to blend indecisively together: 2 a.m. Staying up at this hour for any significant amount of time never seems to end well.
One morning in recent memory, I didn’t even try to go back to sleep. The information made me do it — a book, my phone, the news on my phone and, of course, social media. Before it was all over, I’d read a few pages in a book long overdue to be finished, jotted down a few thoughts in a notebook, read two news articles, commented on them, skimmed through Facebook, laughed, scanned Instagram and laughed some more. #millennialproblems.
Sadly, this pre-twilight-ish behavior is neither uncommon nor a chronic problem for me — it’s just a fact of life.
Let science tell it: Those who are truly considered night owls have brains that show a deteriorated integrity of white matter — the impact of which is likened to a sort of permanent jet lag that has been linked to the disruption of normal cognitive function, among other things. But other research has shown night owls as more productive than early risers, displaying greater reasoning and analytical abilities.
Who am I to say whether waking up or staying up is better? In my mind, what matters most is getting enough sleep to function properly. You know what works for you. What I will say of the aforementioned twilight information binge is that by the end of it, I knew a handful of things I didn’t know before. Some things were utterly useless, others were enlightening, and some extended my understanding on topics that I care about.
With more and more things available at all hours of the day for people to consume, organizational learning has to be right there, too. Catching up on some reading in the silent, predawn hours of the morning might be beyond some people’s comprehension. For others, it is a perfectly acceptable learning opportunity.
Like it or not, we are perpetually logged on and connected, with the exception of the hours we’re asleep — and even that varies. A deluge of voices compete for our time and attention, and while I might not sign onto anyone’s online course at 3 a.m., having the ability to do so is what many of us have been primed to expect.