You’re Probably Not a Night Owl — You Just Don’t Know How to Get to Bed on Time

You might just be going to bed too late. Here's how to tell.

Benjamine Torode/Getty Images
Benjamine Torode/Getty Images
  • Even if you’re always tired in the mornings, you might still not be a night owl.
  • Plenty of so-called night owls are actually just going to bed too late.
  • Sleep procrastinators are usually distracted by their phones or computers, but they’re not creating the same high-quality work that true night owls make at night.


  • Productivity expert Laura Vanderkam shared how to determine if you’re a night owl or if you’re just procrastinating going to bed.

Plenty of folks who can only approach the morning hours with a strong coffee (or three) are boasting their night owl status. And it’s an alluring title: Nights owls have been said to be smarter and more creative than those who wake up at the crack of dawn.

But productivity expert Laura Vanderkam told Business Insider that not everyone who is groggy in the morning is truly a night owl.

“You’re really a night owl if you’re doing your best work at night,” Vanderkam, who has authored several books on productivity and time management including “Off the Clock“, told Business Insider.

Plenty of so-called night owls aren’t putting off sleep for creative output and groundbreaking revelations. They’re “putting around on Instagram and hitting the next episode on Netflix,” Vanderkam said.

If you aren’t going to bed on time, it could be because the light from your phone or laptop is tricking your brain into believing it’s daytime.

Many people are simply too tired to go to sleep

“It takes energy to go to bed,” Vanderkam said. “It seems ridiculous, but it’s true. You have to stop what you’re doing and make a decision to go to bed.”

“It seems to take more energy to get up off the couch, brush your teeth, wash your face, and all that other good stuff than to just stay where you are,” Vanderkam said.

You’re also statistically less likely to be a night owl.

Only 15 to 20% of the population are night owls, sleep expert Dr. Michael Breus told Business Insider’s Shana Lebowitz. About half are neither night owls nor morning birds — their internal clock simply matches that of the sun.

Are you a night owl or sleep procrastinator?

Vanderkam said these four signs show that you’re not really a night owl and you just need to put the kibosh on your pre-pillow phone use:

  • You’re not being productive or creative at night. If it’s more Snapchat than strategizing, you’re probably not a real night owl. “Are you writing the great American novel?” Vanderkam said. “Are you able to send coherent messages about your businesses? Are you coming up with your great business ideas at this time?”
  • You feel fine in the mornings when you get a full night’s sleep. Night owls still feel crappy in the morning even if they slept for eight or more hours.
  • When your jetlag sets you back a few hours — like if you’re going from the East to the West Coast — you feel spry in the morning.
  • If you’re forced to not use your phone before bed, you fall asleep super-early. “If you’re out camping, you’re a night owl if you’re the guy wandering around the campsite watching the embers burn out on the fire.” Everyone who is passed out in the tent is probably an early bird or of neither bird inclination.

Originally published on www.businessinsider.com

More from Business Insider

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How to Design the Ideal Morning Routine if You’re a Night Owl

7 Things the Average American Has Accomplished by Age 35

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