By Oni Joseph
If you ask most developers when they prefer to work, many will say their most productive hours are at night. This may be especially true for open source contributors, who are contributing to projects outside of their day job.
Some like to start in the evening, and work till the early hours, while others get up super early – say, 4:00am – to get most of the programming work done, before the daily grind kicks in.
This work habit may make many developers seem like oddballs and misfits. However, there are quite a few reasons why so many programmers prefer to work during the odd hours:
1. THE PEACEFUL QUIET
With the background noise of various activities (e.g. office chatter, traffic on the street) mostly absent at night or in the early hours, many creators experience a sense of relaxation. This allows them to be more creative and productive – especially when tackling mentally stimulating tasks such as designing.
The solitude and peacefulness, plus knowing that they’ll have a few uninterrupted hours, often take the stress and time pressure associated with a daytime work schedule off their shoulders, allowing them to produce higher quality work.
2. THE SLEEPY BRAIN
This may sound counter-intuitive, but as the day wears on, the brain gets tired enough so it can only focus on a single task. This essentially eliminates multitasking, which is a major hurdle to staying focused and productive. But with a sleepy brain, you can’t afford not to stay focused!
Also, many creators often make the most significant progress when they go to sleep, thinking about the problem they’re trying to solve. The subconscious mind goes to work, and the answers often come to them in the early hours when they’re still half asleep.
3. FLEXIBLE AND CREATIVE THINKING
Many creators experience an upswing in creativity at night. The prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain associated with the ability to concentrate, gets tired at the end of the day. This seems to clear the way for more flexible, and creative thinking for some people.
Also, without distractions and having the space to concentrate for several hours, you can “get in the zone.” This helps you better focus on a project, and get in the flow without worrying about things happening around you.
4. BRIGHT COMPUTER SCREENS
The sleep cycle of many creators is delayed because they look at bright screens all day. The blue light from computer screens; disrupts our circadian rhythm by delaying the release of sleep-inducing melatonin, increasing alertness, and resetting the body’s internal clock to a later schedule. As a result, creatives tend to go to bed later and later.
5. INFLUENCE FROM THE PAST
Creators have become used to working at night due to some projects that are not attainable during the day whereby they have a specific deadline for this work. Many do have other side jobs they are into aside the normal daily job they applied for. Inarguably, some do stay up because the network is stronger at night. Due to this reason, they got used to it.
On a final note, while there are many reasons why creators prefer to work at night, keep in mind that being a night owl doesn’t mean you should skimp on sleep. Lack of sleep leads to stress and anxiety and, ultimately, burnout.
Getting enough quality sleep is the key to maintaining good physical health and brain functions. For example, it helps you integrate new information, cement memories, think creatively, remove accumulated toxins, regulate your appetite, and prevent premature aging.
No matter what your schedule is, make sure to give your brain the rest it needs so you can be on your game and as productive as possible—all day, every day!
Which of these reasons can you relate with?
By Oni Joseph
Image Credit: CreativeMarket