Chronic Fatigue: The Struggles Of Being A Night Owl With A 9 To 5 Job

by Zara Barrie

I'm a bonafide, out and proud, irrepressible NIGHT OWL. I can't help it. I unabashedly THRIVE between the hours 9 pm and 5 am.

It's bigger than me. It's out of my control. I was f*cking born this way.

As soon as night falls and that soft, warm, glow of the moon penetrates the dark surface of the sky, something overcomes the entirety of my being. It's almost animalistic.

The whirlwind of creativity that is pent up within me and the slew of innovative ideas that I can never seem to access during the daytime effortlessly flows out of me come nightfall.

I swear just witnessing the presence of stars in the damn sky intoxicates me with a surge of insatiable energy that I am able to seamlessly channel into endless creative projects.

For whatever reason, the darkness provides me with a great, profound clarity. The hopeless confusion, the panic-induced heart palpitations, the consuming feelings of suffocation, the perpetual questioning of all things are painfully overwhelming to me in the light of day.

Yet it all comes crashing into focus when the clock strikes 10 pm. Ever so suddenly, I am adorned in a cloak of epic wisdom. Everything makes sense.

For the nighttime is my time. The anxiety calmly washes away, the incessant feelings of longing for something greater beautifully dissipate, and the elusive truth crystallizes into my frame of vision.

I come alive at night. I am the best version of myself at night because I am comfortable, stripped down, honest and RAW in the darkness.

If I'm not careful, I can oh so easily stay up until the break of dawn. I have innocently watched the sunrise too many times to count (without being on any drugs of any sort).

It just feels natural to be wide awake creating, working, thinking, conversing and scheming until 2 am, 3 am, 4 am, 5 am...

My nocturnal lifestyle wouldn't be an issue if I wasn't chained to a desk job during the stifling hours of 9 am to 5 pm.

One day, when I'm the sole commander and chief of my own employment, I will enthusiastically liberate myself from the banalities of daytime work -- but until that fine day comes, I'm tethered to the nine-to-five life (And I'm not complaining; I'm know I'm lucky to even have a job, girl.).

I take comfort in the fact that I'm but one displaced baby night owl in a forest of many.

In the morning, as I'm dutifully suffering through a congested 7-am NYC subway ride to work, my weary eyes often meet the bloodshot gaze of another nocturnal soul, and I feel an instant connection to her.

An indelible bond. Her insomnia is palpable to me, and we will exchange a smile, a glance, a moment of recognition, an "I see you."

For there are certain struggles and realities very specific to us mystical creatures of the night who are are stuck in the 9-am-to-5-pm world:

We are chronically fatigued

Before I begin, grant me the opportunity to disclaim: Fatigue and "tired" are two VERY different things. "Tired" is an innocent, fleeting feeling while fatigue is a lifestyle.

Fatigue occurs when you stay up all night with wild eyes and big hair, investing all of your most raw, untampered energy into an art project -- only to trudge to work two hours later.

Do NOT tell me you're "drained" because you got seven hours of sleep instead of nine. You're simply TIRED and will get over it after you consume your $5.00 soy latte from Starbucks.

Fatigue can't be cured so easily.

We have learned to function on no sleep

For those of us who are naturally nocturnal, it only makes sense that we would fall into a deep and peaceful slumber from 5:30 am to 11 am.

It's what our body is pleading for. It's the way our internal clock functions.

We exotic creatures of the darkness who are forced to work in the day, however, are simply not blessed with such luxury.

Since it's impossible for us to shut our bodies and brains off at night and sleep like regular people, we have learned to function on no sleep.

Regardless of how late we stayed up, we have learned how to get our sh*t together and kill it at work without the shut-eye grace period.

When we attempt to sleep at a decent hour, our efforts are nothing short of an epic FAIL

It's not as if we don't try. We aren't staying up all night for health. We are highly intelligent beings, and we intellectually know three hours of sleep is hardly enough to sustain us.

So, from time to time, despite the incessant energy tugging at our shirtsleeves and the adrenaline rush that sweetly whispers, "Stay up, stay up," into our earbuds once the clock strikes 10 pm, we will responsibly put ourselves to bed at a normal hour.

But our bodies just won't listen. We wind up in insomniac HELL -- brutally restless, violently tossing and turning from side to side, twisted up in sweaty sheets, seeping in a pool of our own frustration.

We become angry. Our brains holding court to racing thoughts as we attempt to feign "sleep." Nights like these are far more taxing than just staying up and doing something productive.

We bathe ourselves in a toxic caffeine cycle

Since we average approximately three to four hours of sleep per evening, we find ourselves forever stuck in the wicked throes of a toxic caffeine addiction.

We are damned if we do and f*cked if we don't.

Our lives have become a vicious, unstoppable cycle of coffee addiction. We begin our fatigued days pumped up on a stealth dose of caffeine, then direly crash.

And the pattern repeats...

No one at work knows how amazing we are

Oh, if only our coworkers knew the depth of our amazingness.

We function as good as anyone in the day -- but at night, we will blow every soul out of the water with our quick wit, rapid-fire responses, bountiful bouts of creativity and soaring brainpower.

If only they knew what unstoppable forces of nature we transform into come evening. I guess that's a secret privy to only our fellow insomniacs-in-crime.

We don't fit in with other nine-to-five types

One of the most isolating, painfully alienating parts of being of the nocturnal spirit is the deep disconnect we have from other nine-to-fivers.

People who come gorgeously alive at night are of a different breed than the rest of the cruel, cold world.

We tend to be rebellious souls, fiercely creative bombs, wildly intellectual werewolves, forever-questioning entities who thrive in reckless chaos and unwavering freedom.

We just don't fit in with our nine-to-five coworkers. We respect and cherish them with the core of our beings, but we are not one of them.

We just aren't suits with white picket fences (even if we have to play that role sometimes at work).

We are the obviously displaced ones who laugh a little too late at the office jokes because we just didn't quite get it.

We are the ones who dress a little weird, speak a different language and just don't quite fit into the corporate mold with everyone else.

While we sometimes feel hopelessly lonely (or it could just be the fatigue manifesting itself into the form of inflated emotions, who knows?) at work, we are inherently happy and content with our night owl ways.

Being an insomniac with a day job allows us to live TWICE as much as everyone else.

Because while you were sleeping, we were living.