Never, Ever Wake Up At 4AM

An ode to night owls.

Author by Jennifer Wright
Art credit: Amy Hunt

You’ve seen them. You’ve probably been among them. At some dinner outing — somewhere with a lot of carb-free options on the menu, for everyone on Keto, and communal tables, the worst tables — there’s going to be someone who says, with great pride, that he’s been training himself (it is almost always a him) to wake at 4am every morning.

Then everyone at this dinner will “ooh” and “aah.” They will ask lots of questions about how he’s training his body. He will gloat. There are articles online specifically devoted to gloating about waking up pre-dawn.

To which you might reply, but probably should not, “Why? Why would you do that? Why would anyone ever do that, ever?” Spoiler: He’s going to say something about “productivity.”

Every article I’ve read about waking up at 4am states certain benefits: You get more time to go to the gym/go running, you can start on your work earlier, and you can eat a proper breakfast. Which, oh, wow, breakfast. Breakfast is… the only appealing part of that. I guess the running will let you live longer so you can… eat more breakfast and do more work before you die. You will still die.

Here are the perks to staying up late: concerts, midnight movies, late dinners at restaurants, weird cocktails in secret bars, and parties where you meet the love of your life. The best moments of life, the moments you’ll remember on your deathbed, happen around 11:00 at night. None of those moments involve “getting an earlier start on work.”

I have nothing against 4am in and of itself. It’s pretty nice in a quiet sort of way. I used to walk to an all-night diner around that time when I worked at a bar. New York was misty and pretty at that hour, made prettier by the knowledge that I was going to eat some potato pancakes and then go to bed.

Sometimes I still stay up until 4am, just for the hell of it. The sunrise is the best when you’re seeing it just before your head hits the pillow.

No one has ever praised me for this, and no one ever will.

I’m not alone. There are those of us who have been “training ourselves” to stay awake until 4 in the morning for years. Where are our reverent “ooooohs?” Where are people asking us how we get so much done, so late at night?

But then, we don’t even really need to ask that, do we? The night itself is our medal. Nighthawks have contemplative conversations in beautifully lit coffee shops. Early birds eat worms, which sounds disgusting (but, I guess, keto).

Here’s who comes to mind when you think about who wakes up really, really early: farmers. Here’s who stays up really, really late: vampires.

One of those groups is a) so cool they cannot actually exist and b) a literary metaphor for sexually adventurous humans. The other one… well, they’re the backbone of America, which sounds like a lot of responsibility, but tractors are fun, I guess.

I’m just being polite. Tractors are at best “okay.”

So, do the requisite oohing and ahhing for that guy at the table, who is going to have to head home by 7:30 to get his 8 hours before getting up at nope o’clock.

Then slip off to your next engagement. The night is waiting.

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About Woolly

A curious exploration of comfort, wellness, and modern life — emotionally supported by Casper. It’s a beautiful magazine published by a mattress. Come on, you know it’s not the weirdest thing to happen this year. The first issue includes a love letter to comfort pants, a skeptic's guide to crystals, and an adulting coloring book.