In the dead of night, I come alive


At 4:00 pm, I sat down to write my paper. My finger tapped away lethargically on the keyboard, slowly stringing together sentences of banal quality at best.

At 5:00 pm, I was distracted from my paper and was scavenging my kitchen for something to munch on. I was a mere two and a half pages in.

At 6:00 pm, I had just spent a half hour glaring at the pages of words, unsatisfied by the way they read. Fortunately, I had to leave the house for a couple of hours. However, I spent most of that copious time puzzling over how to improve the paper weighing so heavily on me.

At 9:00 pm, I forced myself to open my computer and begin to work again. My paper became that of a mundane routine, uninteresting and repetitive.

At 11:00 pm, I hated the five pages I had written. The dull piece of writing had no hum of life nor any passion. It lacked every sort of fervor. So, I scrapped the five pages and started over. A new sort of feeling was coming over me, one that appreciates the art of words and finds joy in making thoughts more tangible.

At 12:30 am, my fingers flew over the keys, unable to stop the words spilling out, creating and changing complex concepts and forming ideas.

At 1:30 am, I sighed in relief and contentment as I shut my computer lid.

In the dead of night, I come alive.

Because I am calm, I can be creative.”

Why is that I always work better in the middle of the night? My mind wanders just as much as during the day, but the places it wanders find a physical form in the words I type at night. Somehow, everything that makes focusing hard during the day becomes everything that is so easy during the night.

I don’t think the desire to complete the assignment plays a role in this phenomenon of witching hour creativity and drive. No matter what time it is, I always want to execute my best work on assignments but also as efficiently as I can. Yet, something that may take an eternity may find itself begun and finished in the few hours between sundown and sunrise.

Even when I am not trying to throw words or numbers on a page to create something with coherent meaning, I simply am more creative at night. I always joke with my friends that if you attempt a conversation with me in the dead of night, chances are you that won’t understand the extended metaphors I talk in. I can’t help it; it just happens.

That got me thinking one night when my mind was particularly free. I found myself opening Google and searching for an explanation for my peculiar happenstance. As it turns out, there is a scientific reason behind it, and it has nothing to do with the time of day. In a nutshell, it is all about the chemicals in your brain when you are tired. To state the obvious, I’m tired at night. Usually, I’ve been up and exerting myself mentally and physically for close to fourteen hours before I have the time to settle in to do homework. Chemicals are produced in the brain when exhaustion sets in that block dopamine which affects the frontal cortex, in specific. Without the frontal cortex processing information, the rest of the brain wanders into space. It can explore and pursue new avenues it otherwise would have been told to U-turn away from. The result? Undiluted creativity.

But, that still doesn’t satisfy my curiosity. I always feel tired, yet productivity only kidnaps me at night. I’m sure the science is sound; but still, there must be another solution.

I think it is the essence of night. Its comforting silence and serene nothingness strip away the distractions of the day. The darkness outside my window soothes harsh light and curls up next to me. It brings me peace of mind which sweeps away the messiness of the hours passed. The night clears my head and refocuses my thoughts on what is important.

Because I am calm, I can be creative.