Survival Strategies For Night Owls At Home

woman reading laptop at night

Being a night owl is less and less of a bad thing with today’s work-at-home positions. How do you manage with a family around?


As I adapt to living alone again, I’ve noticed that my sleeping schedule has shifted from one that was adapted to my ex-partner’s office job to one that comes more naturally to me. For years I slept from 10 to 7 or 8, and now it seems that I’m going back to the cycle I had as an undergrad, which was 1AM to 9-10.

I’m happy I’m letting my body decide my schedule. I’m that much more productive because now my natural cycle follows how my brain functions. But not everyone lives alone like I do, and it can be hard to live as a night owl when you have a family working on a different schedule. So how do you survive? Here are some ideas and strategies that involve home decor (at least a little bit) to help you function at your best while letting your family live their life as well.

Get good–but directional–lighting

I personally have trouble sleeping with too much light. So I would hate if someone stayed up later than me and kept all the lights on. This is why, as a night owl, you need to acquire good lighting (because without, hello eye strain and headaches) that’s also directionally focused.

Forget about ceiling fixtures, and instead get powerful work lamps that you can point away from bedrooms and common areas. That way, you can turn off the ceiling lights and get just what you need to get whatever work you’re doing, done.

Get a room

Well, that’s a given if you have an extra room in your house. As a night owl, you might want to have an office whose door you can close. Furnish it with a good desk, a comfy couch and some good lighting, and you’re good to go for your late night writing or coding sessions.

Ideally this room is far away from the kids’ bedrooms so that even the light from under your door doesn’t bother them.

Acquire excellent headphones

Yeah, we’ve all done it: played a video game so late that we didn’t know what time it was. If you’re an inveterate gamer, or someone who needs music to work, you might want to acquire some high-quality headphones so noise doesn’t bother your family.

Modern sound systems let you connect headphones for TV and movies as well, and you can easily get a pair of Bluetooth, wireless headphones so you can sit anywhere in the room and not have to worry about a wire.

Make concessions

It’s important to consider the needs of your family if you decide to live the night owl life. If you need to be up at 8AM to drive the kids to school, you might not want to stay up until 5AM. Or, as we’ll see in the next section, you’ll need to experiment with your sleep schedule.

It’s important that you still help out with the chores, maybe do a load of laundry or two during the night so your partner doesn’t have to worry about it in the morning.

Experiment with your sleep schedule

The whole 8 hours of straight sleep is not necessarily a given. In fact, many people have experimented with sleep cycles and have come up with several models. It’s called polyphasic sleep (in contrast to monophasic sleep) and many of today’s hyper-busy professionals have adopted one of them.

See if you can adapt one of these to your family’s schedule. The Everyman model is perfect for someone who works late and has to be up in the morning. You can then take power naps during the day while the family is out at work or in school.

This will require, of course, a good napping couch!

The life of a night owl

I’m more of a “late evening bird” than a night owl, but it’s interesting to see what my body and brain prefer when it comes to sleep. It’ll let me enjoy more things, because on my earlier cycle I got tired really early and got a lot less work done.

How about you? How well do you know your natural sleep cycle? Do you live as a night owl? How have you made this easier for you and your family? Let me know in the comments!

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