Scientists have apparently discovered why it is so difficult to get teenagers out of bed in the morning—the younger you are, the more sleep you need. Okay, so what’s my excuse? My teenage years are far behind me and, yet, I still cannot do mornings. Well, I can, but it is always under duress and comes with a generous helping of sour mood.
Lazy, perhaps? Hmm, not quite, because I don’t need that much sleep and regularly get less than the recommended eight hours. My problem is that I’m a night owl. And it is a problem as society and even our own bodies are geared toward operating in daylight hours. However, I find that I work much better at night. Possibly because there are less distractions, but even when I’m not working, I still prefer the still of the night.
That is actually a bit of an overstatement as the night is far from still in my world. There is a whole array of activity that occurs under the cover of darkness, from the lone drunkard winding their way home (sometimes singing—nay, caterwauling—sometimes merely a soliloquy) to the group who have been rendered giggly or argumentative by a night out. The nightshift worker on the way to the grindstone. Or the odd car taking advantage of the clear roads with a so called joy ride.
The dark hours have mysterious qualities that disappear when the sun comes up, amply demonstrated by the fascinating wildlife. I recall a camping trip years ago (I actually got to see stars!) when I saw only the eyes of several deer during a moonlight walk. I’m sure they would have run from us in the daytime.
In the West Indies, in pitch darkness, bats will swoop low enough for you to sense them close and, yet, never touch you. Doesn’t stop them being able to make me jump out of my skin, though! Especially when one finds its way inside after a window is inadvertently left open, flapping about wildly in search of an exit the moment the light is switched on.
London is less frantic, and light pollution prevents any stars from being seen, but it is just as fascinating. For some reason, I imagined that birds only started chirping when the sun came up. However, listening to their song cutting through the darkness of three in the morning is something special; in the darkness, the sound is clear and able to be appreciated when is isn’t competing with the traffic noise from road and air.
Bold urban foxes like to make their presence felt under the cover of darkness, shrilly vocalising their displeasure at the meagre pickings they get from ripping open rubbish bags. This disgust seems further displayed when they stare you down if you encounter them on the street.
Most importantly, night is a naturally sensual time, much more so than the daytime. I have known people extol the pleasures of sex in the day, I have even heard a song about it. (“The best time to make love is in the morning”) However, I don’t take that bus. Though I hate winter and am always glad to see the approach of spring, the change of the clocks today means I will have to wait a little longer for my beloved darkness to descend. Still, it is always worth it, even if I do worry about a lack of vitamin D and a misaligned body clock.