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What are you doing tonight at 10:04?

Are you one of the many mothers who make the most of the evening hours after all the kids are in bed? Maximizing the later hours of the day may in fact be an excellent strategy, according to the results of a new research study. Forget the early bird; the most likely time of day for a creative breakthrough is 10:04 p.m. As reported by the UK’s Daily Mail:

Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy and wise.

So goes the old proverb, but research now suggests that if you want to be the wisest, you really need to stay up — well, until 10.04 pm at least.

This is supposedly the best time for a eureka moment, according to research. [A]round a quarter of us feel we formulate our most cunning plans when we are burning the midnight oil, the survey of 1,426 adults found.

By contrast, despite what many managers may believe, daytime in the office is not conducive to blue-sky thinking. The afternoon…is when an overwhelming 98% of those polled say they feel most ‘uninspired’.

The creativity drought just gets worse over the nine to five working day, hitting rock bottom at 4.33 pm.

When asked about methods they use to get their creative juices flowing, 44% said they took a shower.

Unfortunately for mankind, even when we do get a stroke of genius more than half of our ideas are lost forever.

When inspiration strikes, 58% of us fail to write the idea down immediately and forget it….Women were better than men at jotting down their best ideas for posterity.

A third of over-35s chose to scribble the thought on the back of their hand, perhaps having learnt from experience how forgetful they are. The findings echo an Italian study in 2006 that found those who stay up late have the most original ideas.

Night owls came up with the most creative thoughts — perhaps because they are more likely to be unconventional and bohemian than early birds — according to the research by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart in Milan.

So, if you like to stay up late and squeeze in a bit of creative time, take a look at the clock when you hit your groove. It might just be 10:04. Oh, and if you have a great idea, write it down — preferrably on a piece of paper!

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. cathy #

    in the days before kids, absolutely the late night creator.

    since kids, esp revisiting infacy 10 years later, 10:04pm, i can be found sacked out in front of the boobtube, considering taking my zombie carcass to bed, and not doing a very good job of it. my whole body has been through the maternal version of the marine rifle drill: hold baby for 16 out of the last 18 hours after a night ‘sleeping’ bent around her. this is an especially rough week for sleep deprivation for me, so sorry there is less humor and more complaint in this comment. and i have an appointment i should have already left the house for, but, i’m feeling less than motivated at the moment due to – you got it.

    October 23, 2008
  2. Kristine #

    This totally describes me! In fact, I am useless trying to get anything done during the day when I’m on Mommy Duty. My workday begins after the sun goes down (and the baby goes to bed).

    Baby goes to bed at 8:00 p.m. I work on my freelance (paid) editing work from 8-9:30 p.m. I take a short break to grab a snack, and then from 10:00-midnight, I work on my novel.

    So what am I doing at 10:04 p.m.? Writing fiction! I’m definitely a night owl.

    October 23, 2008
  3. I can only work well at night if I know exactly what I’m writing. For creative, off the cuff writing, it must be first thing in the morning. My head must be clear. By mid-afternoon, my brain is fried.

    October 23, 2008
  4. I completely agree with this article, althought I do my best work at around midnight.

    October 23, 2008
  5. cathy #

    ok, i’m in a better frame of mind now, my apologies for earlier….

    ideally, my best writing happens at 10am or 2pm, with a nearly empty house. when it works that i am up before anyone else, an extreme rarity with s in the house who is restricted from leaving his room until 6am, i adore writing at dawn.

    in the old days, it was because i had been up all night voluntarily, hanging with musicians, poets, painters, etc. in those days, week nights, i kept a nightly journal before bed around 10-11p and found much fruitful writing to wind down my day. it also could send me excitedly writing into the night when i hit a groove leading to a different sleep deprivation from the kind i experience now.

    October 23, 2008
  6. Charlotte #

    It’s now 2.45am… OK, I’m jetlagged right now, and I’m not being very creative either. However, I agree with the article and with Bec: 10pm-2am are when things generally get done, regardless of my best efforts during the hours of daylight.

    October 23, 2008
  7. Charlotte #

    @ cathy: cheer up, ducks! 😉 hope you get some sleep tonight.

    October 23, 2008
  8. gaijinmama #

    I’m definitely more creative at night, after the house has settled and the kids are in bed, than in the morning. I tried getting up at 5AM and writing once, but I produced only drivel.

    October 24, 2008
  9. i must admit, i’ve never been a nightowl! i need my beauty sleep! i most creative when i can get a day to myself without children or husband around, which unfortunately, is rare…

    October 24, 2008
  10. cathy #

    thanks, charlotte, i didn’t by much, but i feel better than i did yesterday, when i was on the verge of tears for several hours!

    October 24, 2008
  11. I never thought I was a night owl, but now that I have a baby who fairly reliably starts his evening sleep by 9:00, I depend on having those evening hours to myself. I work until around midnight when I wake him up to nurse and then take him to bed (and hope for at least a three-hour stretch of uninterrupted sleep). So by necessity, I find myself becoming a night owl — and I’m surprised by my capacity at that hour. There are definitely nights when the sleep deprivation catches up with me and I have a narcoleptic crash on the couch at 9:15, but most nights, I have energy. Key to having gas in the tank that late at night? Taking liquid iron supplements, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding simple carbs and sugar. All of those are clearly linked to my increased energy and the ability to cope with so little sleep. Running also helps.

    Maybe I went through this night-owl thing with all my kids, but I really don’t remember it!

    October 24, 2008

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