The Witching Hour: Why Some People Work Better at Night



The Witching Hour:  Why Some People Work Better at Night


The corporate world is built around the 9-to-5 work schedule but the pandemic (yes, you can blame it on the pandemic) gave rise to the work from home culture.  Being forced to telecommute during the shutdown allowed for more flexible work schedules.  Because, let’s face it, everyone is wired differently.  Some of us wake up as soon as the sun rises, and others are at their most productive during the night.  Productivity is not one size fits all, and not everyone is at their most productive during the daytime hours.

Kelly Baron, an associate professor in University of Utah, who studies sleep health and treats patients with insomnia, stated: “We would get better performance out of employees if they were allowed to work at their best working time.”  Enter the night owls!  Why is it that some people work better at night?  Well, here are a couple of reasons:

  • It’s all about your Chronotype.

Chronotype is the natural inclination of your body to sleep at a certain time—early risers vs. night owls.  Though it is closely tied to our circadian rhythms–our sleep-wake cycles, it exists on a more inherent, permanent basis.  For example, as a night owl, you can train your body to wake up at 7am every day for work but your productivity doesn’t kick in until later that day.  Inversely, as an early bird, you are already taking over the world at 7am in the morning but as soon as the afternoon hits, you are out of steam.  Think of your chronotype as your blood type.  It is something you are born with.

  • It’s your rhythm—your ultradian rhythms.

If you haven’t heard about ultradian rhythms, you are not alone!  Not a lot of people know what it is.  Your ultradian rhythm is the natural, oscillating patterns of energy production and recovery that occur many times throughout the day.  It’s like our circadian rhythms but on a smaller, more frequent scale.  Think about it this way.  After 90 to 120 minutes of sustained energy output and mental focus, the body and the brain need a 15-to-20-minute break to recover, repair, replenish, and rebalance.  Once that’s done, it takes you back to a high level of productivity and efficiency for another 90 to 120 minutes.  And so on and so forth.  A night owl’s ultradian rhythm functions at its peak during the evening hours. 

  • Tranquility and peace—at night.

The average employee has 15 minutes of uninterrupted focus in between disruptions—phone calls, emails, messages, co-worker knocking on your door for a quick chat.  Throw in a couple of meetings and your workday is over before you know it.  At night, when most people are asleep, there are minimal distractions, resulting in better focus and higher productivity.

  • Your creativity flourishes at night.

Night owls are more likely to be creative thinkers.  They are more efficient during the night and are more likely to arrive at creative solutions to projects and work tasks.  In addition, night owls can maintain their concentration even after long hours at work.

  • A more relaxed approach.

When you are working at night, you are working on your own timeline and schedule.  You don’t have the time restrictions that usually accompany the 9 to 5 schedule.  Night owls tend to be more productive because there are minimal distractions.  Without the pressure and the distractions, it leads to a more relaxed approach in tackling projects and work in general.

As an employer and as a business owner, take note and consider when your employee delivers their best work.  Knowing when your employee thrives is an advantage for your business, in terms of increased productivity and greater work performance.  Allowing flexible work schedules can lead to happier employees who perform at their optimal levels.  This also sets your employee up for a better work-life balance.  Happy employees lead to a better work environment.