When I can’t sleep

Saguaro across the street on the nature’s preserve.

If I wake up in the middle of the night, I often turn on a podcast or a radio station and find myself falling back to sleep quickly.

Last night I listened to someone talking about circadian rhythms and something they called “midnight brain.” I fell asleep so of course I only remember a little bit. They were talking about how more crimes happen late at night.

I read an article today on Healthline called Why the Human Mind Is ‘Not Designed’ to Stay Awake Past Midnight.

Here’s an excerpt:

Most people have been tempted to stay up late at some point in their lives. Others may have to work late, often past midnight, due to the nature of their job.

But a new research review, recently published in the journal Frontiers in Network Psychology, suggests that staying awake past midnight may have implications that stem beyond needing an extra cup of coffee the next day. In fact, the study authors suggest that the mind simply isn’t “designed” to be awake into the wee hours of the night.

While prior studies have explored the effects of sleep deprivation on cognition, the new research focuses more specifically on what happens to the human brain when it’s awake past midnight.

The resulting “Mind After Midnight” hypothesis states that the mind isn’t set up to operate as it does in the daytime, and as a result, we’re more likely to make impulsive and even “risky” decisions.


The authors of the study said these four things can happen to those staying up past midnight:

  • suicide and self-harm
  • engaging in violent behaviors
  • use of alcohol and illicit substances
  • higher food intake

The article also mentioned that some people are night owls and are more creative at night. They don’t experience any of the downsides most people do.

My husband has said for years that nothing good happens late at night. I stayed up late as a teenager. Friends and I would try to stay up until the birds sang. It was a badge of honor.

But the older I get, the earlier I fall asleep. In fact, I go to bed so early it causes me to wake up in the middle of the night!

What are your thoughts about circadian rhythms and midnight brain? Are you an early to bed early to rise? Or are you a night owl?

6 thoughts on “When I can’t sleep

  1. I used to be a night owl. In college I pulled more than a few all nighters with tests and projects. I used to be the “night driver” when our daughter lived in Alabama. I do like to stay up after others go to bed because it’s “my time.” So, of course, I want everyone else to go to bed early! 💜

  2. I have stress insomnia. I’ve been in bed for 3 hours, trying to sleep. I also have this bad habit of staying on my phone in bed. It’s 1 am and I want to sleep but I can’t. My head hurts and I’m tired but as soon as I put my phone down, my anxious brain kicks in. It seems like I’m picking more fights with my husband lately and it could be partly due to my lack of sleep.

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