From about age 16 and on, I’ve always liked to stay up late. If you’re around me for any length of time, you’ll find that out very soon.

I used to go to bed at a reasonable hour, back when I was about 14 or younger, I remember some Friday nights I would have trouble staying awake for the entire Letterman show. Back then he was on at 12:30am. I was also in school much longer during the day. Perhaps that tired me out.

During the summers, I’d stay up really late. Each successive year, I’d stay up later and later. By the time I left high school, I’d be pushing the 2am or 3am barrier. I’ve never thought about why I liked to go to bed so late. I guess it’s partly biological and partly social. I’m pretty sure something in my brain is telling me not to feel tired late at night. From a social standpoint, I like being awake at these late hours. It almost feels like the entire world is in bed, but I’m awake and conscious, when everyone else is dreaming.

I’ve read that teenagers are more apt to staying up late because of biological reasons, but they outgrow that in their 20s. I’m not sure if that will ever happen to me.

I know that I can’t work it out of my system. For eleven months, I worked at this horrible place for my first engineering job out of undergrad. I woke up “early” every weekday and went into work around 9:30am. You’d think that after eleven months, my body would maybe become a little more prone to going to bed earlier. After my last day of work after quitting, I stayed up until 2am that night and woke up at 10am the next day. It was the same thing for weeks afterwards.

There’s sometimes a latent belief that people who sleep in are lazy. That’s because when most people are up in the mornings, they think anyone who is sleeping must not be pulling their weight. Of course, you rarely hear people chatising someone for going to bed early.

Being a night owl in society is very hard. Appointments, classes, meetings, you name it, no one thinks twice about scheduling these things at 7am, 8am, 9am. My neighbour down the hall had a physio appointment at 7am last week. No one would question the physio for doing that. He’s just an early riser, a go-getter who gets the worm. What if he had appointments at midnight though? Oh no, he can’t do that. That’s ridiculous, no one would go then, because everyone would be in bed. I’d go at midnight, but then I below to a very small segment of society.

I’ve been doing some surfing and I found an interesting site on the Web. It’s called the Nocturnal Society. It’s a cheezy Geocities site, but it has an interesting theory in their “manifesto“. They theorize that in the evolution of human beings, a small percentage of people are genetically prone to staying up late. Why? To tend the fires that humans used to sleep next to. I’m not sure how accurate this is, but they say that early man relied on fire throughout the night for warmth and to keep away predators. If the entire group of people all went to sleep it’s possible the fire could go out. Over some unknown length of time, evolution made sure that some people would be predisposed to staying up late.

It’s a good theory, but I’d like to see real proof, perhaps a “night owl gene” of some sort.

Well, I better go do some marking. It’s been only an ok day in terms of productivity. Here’s to the rest of the night and another log on the fire!

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