Straight & 2 Beers: Confessions of a night owl

Johannesburg – I probably should have chosen a different career.

I should have become a night watchman or a nightclub owner because I am an incorrigible night owl.

I am awake at night and only go to sleep in the wee hours.


It’s been like that for decades. My nocturnal habits have confounded many people.

My late grandfather, with whom I shared a bedroom in my teens, took umbrage when I wasted candles while devouring James Hadley Chase, Mills and Boon and Barbara Cartland novels at night.

When I finally wake up around midday, he would point an accusing finger and remark that one day the sun would shine in my rectum.

I would politely retort that there was no reason to wake up at dawn since there were no longer cows to milk.

As can be expected, I had a torrid time at school.

Though I still aced my grades, I would be groggy in the mornings. I have forgotten how many early morning flights I missed because an inconsiderate employer or corporate dared book me on one.

I eventually charmed and befriended a check-in lady at the airport after she had seen me run countless times to catch my flight. And unlike the bus, you can’t flag the pilot to wait for you while you are sprinting.

You can miss your plane while it’s still on the grounds because the check-in regimen takes time. You simply have to arrive early.

One of my enjoyable stints was when I worked night shift at a daily newspaper. On the night that businessman Brett Kebble committed assisted suicide after midnight, I was playing solitaire on the company computer and still got the breaking story for the morning edition. I detest anyone who calls me before 10am if I forgot to switch off the before slumbering.

I groan like a bear being castrated when I eventually pick it up only to be asked whether I’m still asleep. A primary school teacher once told us that it’s dangerous to wake a person up rudely because when we are asleep, our souls leave our bodies to wander in the universe.

So, when you shake me awake, my soul could rush back from the stratosphere and miss my body in its rush and I would die in my sleep. Sleep is one of the most important activities of our lives, like eating healthy and exercising daily.

According to experts, an average human should get at least seven to eight hours of sleep every day. Sleep enhances our ability to learn, memorise and make logical decisions. It restocks our immune system, fine-tunes our metabolism and regulates our appetite.

It does not matter when we go to sleep, as long as we meet our daily quota. Some people are early birds and some of us are night owls. Unlike insomniacs, I don’t twiddle my thumbs in bed while waiting for a shut eye.

The still of the night is a balm that soothes my creative juices. Unfortunately, my nightowl habit interferes with my love life. Many a one-night stand has been stunned when I stood up after a horizontal hanky-panky instead of cuddling and dozing off.

This also means I seldom indulge in morning glory. My nocturnal activities are a subject of another column.

Vusi Nzapheza.

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