Why Are We More Creative At Night? 5 Reasons

Have you ever had creative moments late at night? The general question to ask is why are we more creative at night?

The answer is not as complex as it sounds. It depends on how we structure our daily schedules, which sends some signals to the brain.

If you do a lot during the daytime, those creativity spurs may not come until later at night. I know that’s happened to me multiple times, and it often is how I go about my day early on.

In this article, I will briefly explain how our 24-hour cycle operates. I will also lay out five reasons why people tend to be more creative at nighttime.

  1. Why Do I Feel More Inspired At Night?
  2. Fewer Distractions
  3. More Calm And Less Stress
  4. Less Energy Is Used
  5. Night Owls Are More Creative
  6. Better Memory Retention
  7. My Experience
  8. Questions To Ask Yourself
Why are we more creative at night? This post will go over some reasons why we're creative late at night.
Why Are We More Creative At Night? 5 Reasons

Why do I feel more inspired at night?

At night, you may feel more creative and awake due to your circadian rhythm. In simple terms, the circadian rhythm deals with the 24-hour cycle between waking and sleeping hours.

A lot takes place between your physical, mental, and behavioral changes. Especially if you don’t get proper rest, you’re going to experience fatigue during the day.

Hence, it may explain why we feel a little more alert later at night.

Situations

These effects often take place for shift workers (working an overnight job). Since they work overnight hours and have to get sleep during the day, their circadian rhythms can throw them off at times.

Another situation could come from experiencing jet lag. If you’re doing long-distance traveling, your body may find it difficult to adjust to a new time zone.

For instance, if you’re flying from Los Angeles (Pacific) to New York City (Eastern), they are three hours apart. If you lose three hours in your day, it’s hard to adjust for the next day or two.

But for everyone else, having that little sense of alertness at night may be due to a lack of proper sleep the day before. It can vary from person to person depending on their daily schedules.

(For more information on circadian rhythm, check out this fact sheet for specific details on how it functions. I find it fascinating to understand so I can be more aware of how I behave during odd times of the day.)

Why are we more creative at night?

What we do earlier in the day affects our creativity later at night. The way we structure our daily schedule can influence when we are creative during the 24-hour cycle. Here are five reasons why we’re more creative during odd hours.

Fewer distractions

Being one of the few people up at nighttime comes with few distractions. During the daytime, a lot can happen that may need your attention.

For instance, you may end up getting more phone calls or notifications from your phone throughout the day. In the late night hours, it’s unlikely to happen with most people sleeping during those hours.

With little to no distractions, it gives you the opportunity to focus on things without any interruptions. Unless you’re a young parent with a baby, you can get a lot of quiet time and peace during those hours.

More calm and less stress

Going back to daytime hours, that’s when all of the action takes place. There may be moments when things get out of control, and it may not provide a sense of relief or calmness.

There are people who are on their toes throughout the day, without finding a moment of relaxation and calm. Not to mention it can come with a lot of stress.

You may have some people who are demanding for you to do things, and it can cause some pressure to act quickly. If you’re someone who has high-stress levels, that can be a problem.

If you’re not subject to those during the night hours, you may feel less stressed. With that, having a sense of calmness can mean time to think creatively in that manner.

Why do we think deeper at night?

Much of it has to do with our memory retention from early on in the day. With so many things that happened during the daytime, some people can’t find solid downtime for creative thinking. Shortly before going to bed, that can be the “light bulb” moment where deep thinking takes place.

Less energy is used

When doing creative work at night, you’re not exhausting all of your energy. What I mean by that is you’re not doing multiple things at a time.

We may refer to that as multitasking, which I’ve always said it’s not the best thing to do. There is a sense of urgency during the day for those who multitask.

But if that happens, a lot of energy can be used up so that you feel tired. It gets to the point where you feel a little fatigue during the afternoon hours. 

Although during the night hours, you may not use up all of that energy. With that, you’re not as tired when you’re doing fewer things in one setting.

A relevant article from notimekillers.com

Read next on “Does Multitasking Lower Productivity? Yes, It Does!“, to learn why multitasking slows you down instead of making you more productive.

Night owls are more creative

This one may not be a surprise, but there’s an advantage to being a night owl. Being more creative at night can bring a lot of ideas into action.

According to an old study conducted by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan (Italy), those who stayed up late ended up having the most creativity. 

According to one professor from the study, she said of night owls, “Being in a situation which diverges from conventional habit (typical for nocturnal types), may encourage the development of a non-conventional spirit and of the ability to find alternative and original solutions.” 

Based on the study, the night owl participants had an easier time being creative than those who were morning people. So it can pay off to be a night owl if the intention is to come up with creative solutions.

Are we more creative in the morning or at night?

Most people are creative in the morning because they feel more refreshed. Sometimes after waking up (and having a bite to eat), the early to mid-morning period can be considered the peak time of time for creative work.

Better memory retention

Being creative at night can mean retaining memories a lot better. If you do deep work later at night, followed by sleeping late, you may feel a lot more refreshed afterward. 

The evening/late-night hours may be a time for you to forget some things if you have been busy for most of the day. After you conduct creative work at night, you’ll be more focused and more likely to retain what you’ve learned.

My experience

I’ve been in this situation so many times, it’s amazing how my creativity sparks right before my bedtime. I don’t know what it is, but those little moments can be the best times to write down some notes. 

I experience these moments at least once a week. The crazy part is it happens to be when I’m in the shower, or takes place one hour before going to bed.

I would think that would be the time to wind down and not be creative. But based on what I researched, I understand more about why these moments come up.

So when I do have these moments, I’ll take notice and write down any thoughts I have in my mind. If I’m not going to stay up late, I mind as well get some of my thoughts down on paper.

Questions to ask yourself

  • Do you find yourself more creative during late-night hours?
  • Do you consider yourself a night owl?
  • Do you feel more relaxed doing work at night, compared to the daytime?
  • If you have a sudden creative moment before going to sleep, what can you do differently?

A relevant article from notimekillers.com

Read next on “Why Am I Always Tired In The Afternoon? Study Explains Why“, to learn more about the afternoon slump.

Final Words

Being more creative at night is not a new phenomenon. It’s been around for a long time, and there will be more people who discover themselves as night owls. 

Albert Einstein and Charles Darwin were known for being night owls. For the creatives they were, they ended up coming up with solutions that had an impact around the world. 

These reasons can help us better understand why our creative moments occur. Especially if they happen during odd times, it’s good to understand why they come about.

On the other hand, there are people who work very well during the late night hours. I know one person, for instance, who’s most focused between the hours of 10 PM-1 AM. That may be an unusual time, but if it works well for him, that’s a good thing.

It can pay off to save your creativity at night. If you’re like me, I encourage you to set time aside for a half hour to jot down anything you have in mind. It can help with doing creative work at the moment or during your peak period.

Your Turn: Have you had a creative moment at night?

I would like to get your thoughts on this topic. Do you find yourself having a creative moment right before your bedtime?

Was it a result of doing things earlier in the day? How could you have structured your day differently?

Do you consider yourself a night owl? Do you know anyone who is nocturnal?

Feel free to share your thoughts by leaving a comment below. I look forward to reading your responses, and I’ll gladly respond promptly.

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Eric is a content writer and the site owner of notimekillers.com. He takes great pride in helping people manage their time and grow their businesses. Eric is a firm believer in time freedom, as he believes in taking ownership of time. 

“Time is your most important asset. It can be your best friend or worst enemy. How you use your time can shape the future you desire to have.” In his leisure time, Eric loves to write and read whenever possible. He enjoys going for long walks outdoors while doing in-home workout videos every week. You can follow Eric on LinkedIn.

Self Photo 2019: Here's a picture at a building in downtown Chicago.

4 thoughts on “Why Are We More Creative At Night? 5 Reasons”

  1. Hi,

    The topic was interesting. I personally derive my creativity at all different times of the day. 

    It really amounts to where I am emotionally and physically. Whether at work, home, temple, camping, traveling, or on retreat. 

    Night time is an advantage as you stated, for me primarily because my partner is asleep and my day is basically done. Meditating daily allows for clarity and peace of mind. 

    Fortunately, I have a job that allows me to work on my own schedule. So, in the mornings I can be on the train to work and come up with things. 

    Actually at different times throughout the day. Because of this, I carry a notepad to jot them down for later. 

    Reading or writing content is a great time, too. Time is invaluable and I don’t like to waste it on anything negative, unfulfilling, nonproductive, or lacking any type of learning. 

    Here, I have learned your perspective and in many ways makes sense. I would tend to agree that the nighttime is advantageous for many reasons. 

    The key for me is getting the best rem sleep possible. That happens for me with proper diet, exercise, and meditation. However, everyone is different.

    Reply
    • Hi Dao,

      Everyone is different when it comes to their creativity and energy levels. Some people have their creative juices on during the day, while others find it taking place during the late-night hours.

      I’m glad to know you have your own structures in place, as that helps out a lot. As I mentioned, I have my own routine set in place.

      It sounds like we agree on these points. But that’s why I believe it’s important to bring up because it’s not discussed that often.

      Thank you very much for sharing your thoughts- I greatly appreciate what you have to say.

      Reply
  2. Hi Eric,

    I definitely agree! 

    That’s exactly my case and I have noticed it several times. How many times I work during the day and evening, easily even into the night, I devote myself to other work. 

    I’ve even had a couple of times where I’ve gone through a period of evening fatigue. By the time I normally go to bed, I’d been so productive that I didn’t want to go to bed.

    As you say, there are several objective reasons why we do better in the evening. We have peace at work, no one disturbs us and our brain works differently than during the day.

    But I would say that it has a lot to do with the frequency to which the brain is tuned in the evening hours. After dark, due to the absence of light, the brain tunes into alpha and theta waves, which is a state much closer to internal balance.

    Great article, thanks!

    Ivo

    Reply
    • Hi Ivo,

      You and I know that by experiencing it ourselves. It’s amazing to think that we can get our creative juices going once it’s late into the night.

      The reasons I went over-explain why it happens more often than not. As you mentioned, it’s all about having that balance throughout the day.

      You make some excellent points about why that may be the case. So you’re spot on about them.

      Thank you for sharing your insights- they’re much appreciated.

      Reply

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