Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

Student Run News Site of Venice High School

The Oarsman

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The Science Behind That 3 A.M. Motivation

What goes on in the brain when sleeplessness strikes and work begins?
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Have you ever gotten that random 3 A.M. motivation?

Maybe you start thinking about an old shirt you haven’t seen in a while, or maybe it’s an assignment you’ve been putting off. Or maybe, you finally want to practice playing your instrument.

Whatever you might feel compelled to do, it sometimes can strangely happen late at night when no one expects anything from us.

It’s during these late hours that the most unexpected ideas and actions often emerge. Sometimes that late night motivation is stronger than your average midday motivation too, and I have wondered what could be the reason behind this.

So why do we get it and what provokes it?

My mom is an Ayurvedic Practitioner, and she says that it’s less than ideal.

“Having a surge of energy at night means your circadian rhythms are abnormal,” she said. “That kind of productivity is abnormal, it has to do with sleep disorders.”

According to the Child Mind Institute, one in every four teenagers don’t get the required ten hours of sleep to healthily function every night, which can cause these sleeping problems.

These result in the same effect that coffee can have, where you have a lot of energy for no reason.

“Somebody whose body clock runs late and has a burst of energy in the evening means that adrenaline and cortisol are getting released at night instead of melatonin, which is the molecule that gets released at night so we can rest,” my
mom said. “It could also be an issue with ADHD, but for the most part it’s due to hormonal imbalance.”

This burst of energy at night to do, finish, or start an activity can also be caused by the lack of pressure that exists during the day rather than at night. Turns out the feeling of no one expecting anything from you can motivate you to do more.

“The causes could be that you are over-stimulated during the day, and excessive screen use releases the cortisol—which irregulates your circadian rhythm—which is your internal clock that controls your sleep- wake cycle,” my mom adds. “Caffeine, lack of sleep, screen use—these all could be the causes.”

Late at night, I’ve found myself struck by random bursts of motivation to tackle chores so my parents don’t have to, or fix things in my house that are slightly out of order.

I’ve washed the load of dishes that had been backed up for days, I’ve wiped down the wet spots around the sinks in our bathrooms, and I’ve washed the overdue laundry. Occasionally, I’ll refill my dog’s food bowl or take out the trash.

I get a strange satisfaction from being productive and knowing that now I will have less to worry about during the day.

Despite the obvious mandatory need to sleep, the sense of fulfillment lingers on once I’ve finally gotten into bed. I always feel good about myself.

However, the one task I strangely have no motivation to do is clean my room. Oops.

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