Inspired by this question: Are people with certain Myers Briggs personality types drawn to careers in programming/development?

I certainly belong with this group.

By the way, anyone knows the English (psycho-)terms for this personality type and its opposite - "wake up early, go to bed early"?

Edit: Thanks to DrJokepu, we figured out the terms: early bird (morning person) vs. night owl.

+28  A: 

I feel more like a "Wake Up Early Go To Bed Late" type...

Just as an aside, my normal sleep pattern tends to be going to sleep at 1 or 2 am and then waking up at 6am. That's just the normal. Every once in a while I'll get in a cycle where I am only getting 2-3 hours sleep for a week or so and I'll eventually crash and recharge my batteries on a weekend.
Me too. I tend to get 5 hours or less during the week then grab about 10-12 hours on the weekend.
+3  A: 

Can't speak for anyone else here, but there just isn't enough time in the day to do everything I want to do, so unfortunately for me I cut into my sleep time. So I usually wake up early, go to bed late (except some weekends where I sleep in)

edit looks like a lot of people here are the wake up early go to bed late type. I guess this group is the 'sleep deprived' group? :)

+39  A: 

What is this Sleep and where can I get it? :-)

It's a blocking process you wouldn't like it. More parallelisation is what you want. (Preferably with a nice lady)
There are many rumours and legends about it - unfortunately all are apocryphal, as no researchers have been able to investigate anyone who is cabable of it.
I hear it's a poor substitute for caffeine.
+1 for Rytmis comment.
Martinho Fernandes
+3  A: 

Early bird, night owl. "Morning person" occasionally.

Anyway, while I certainly belong to this group, a number of my coworkers prefer to start working early and finish early. That's probably because they have families.


I go to bed when I go to bed, but I definitely find that the most productive three or four hours of my day are pretty much always 6:00-10:00 in the morning. I swear that my iq dips about 30-40 points as the day goes on. (Yeah, yeah - insert easy joke here.) I don't even try to learn new things in the evening any more.

I'm the exact opposite... it feels like it takes me several hours to "ramp up". I guess the answer is that we're all different.
+1  A: 

Late to bed, early to rise here....when I am in the middle of a project (which is most of the time), I can usually do fine on 4-5 hours of sleep per night for months on end.

+1  A: 

If I am in the middle of a project, sometimes I get a quick nap late evening and then back to work..


Sleep and wake up is based on when I am supposed to be at my job.

Since I work about 7:30 AM to 5:30 PM I get up at 6:30 AM. So no.

David Basarab
+5  A: 

I'm just a highschool programmer, but I've always found my best time to program is between 11pm and 5am. And after i do that, i promptly sleep for anywhere from 4 to 12 hours. So i guess i'm late to bed, late to rise. Also, all the professional developers i know (which I guess is only a few) are the same way.

Same here. I think this would become a norm for most of real programmers, it they were free of office hours.
+18  A: 

I know many programmers who are night owls, but I know equally as many who are morning people as well. I put myself in the latter category. I am sharpest in the morning, and I try to arrange my days to get my most difficult coding done before lunch. I leave the easy stuff for the afternoon. By the time the evening rolls around, my brain is fried. Any code I would be able to write late at night would be pointless, as I would just spend the entire next day fixing all the problems with it.

The bottom line is this: some programmers work well in the morning; others work better at night. Your manager should recognize this, and allow you the flexibility to set your own schedule. So as long as it's not disruptive to everyone else, there's no reason you shouldn't be allowed to come into work at noon and stay until 8 or 9 at night, if that's how you'll be the most productive.

Actually I hold the same opinion. The other thing is that they just want me to be there at the specified time because these are the rules. Unfortunately many Germans put rules over common sense. As for my productivity that's something noone cares about.
I think there are definite limits to what many would refer to as flexible work hours. If you are going to be working on a project as part of a team, you need to make sure that you are putting in productive hours with your team. If you are not around when they are, communication will suffer greatly.
"Your manager should...allow you the flexibility to set your own schedule." - Long ago it was discovered that people adapt to various conditions. I suspect that a programmer who adapts to the 9-5 schedule is not significantly less productive than one who doesn't.
Adam Davis
Plus, there's a significant advantage to having everyone working at the same time - problems are easy to resolve if you can walk over immediately and have a discussion rather than synchronizing schedules. This swamps any effect given by allowing workers to set their own schedule.
Adam Davis
@TheTXI @Adam DavisThat's why I made sure to say "if it's not disruptive". Obviously this policy would not fly at many places, but it does work for many, with surprising results. It's 2009, not 1950; if your manager cares more about you being present from 9 to 5 than about results, he's an idiot.
Actually, we have such an organization that my presence is only required around a next release. The rest of the time I could have simply worked from home office.
The sure thing I know - for programmer, the worst time to work is - working hours. :) For both types!
+1  A: 

While I do stay up late, I rarely sleep more than 8 hours. I feel as though I am wasting time if I do. I usually liked getting into work early (when I was on coop, finishing college right now) since I was able to leave work early. Plus, if I sleep late I think it only makes me feel more tired.

My room-mate on the other hand (looks over shoulder in disgust) seems to regularly sleep for 10-12 hours.

+1  A: 

In the past I used to program until early in the morning (2am ish) if I really got into a project and at the time would think I was being really productive. Inevitably the next day when I looked at the code I produced I would be horrified and would end up rewriting the vast majority of it. For that and other reasons I avoid late night programming sessions like the plague these days.

I didn't use to be very productive in my first couple of hours at work in the morning but since I have started to walk to work this has totally changed. After an hours walk I arrive at work fully awake and now find the first couple of hours the most productive. Colleagues of mine who cycle into work have noticed the same also.

Good old endorphins - The body's natural anti-depressant - these are released during exercise and help to make you 'feel good'I really should remember to take a walk before or during the day
+1  A: 

I'm an adaptable animal. I had schedules for months where I would go to bed at 5pm and wakeup at 1am. I also had schedules where I'd go to sleep at 5am and wakeup at 2pm.

I found that the most productive time for me is 2am-6am.

Yeah that pretty much makes you very anti-social (well except for your fellow hackers!)

I usually just get 6 hours. I usually go to bed around 2am, so wherever that puts me...

Joe Philllips
+2  A: 

@TheTXI... I used to be exactly like you with "Wake up early and go to bed late". This worked for awhile. However, I found that you eventually become less productive per hour. IMHO, you will ultimately be far more successful learning how to work smarter and more effectivly with your time and geting enough rest/spending time having fun than working 50+ hours a week.

The following was a great post on this topic...

Zig Ziglar has also always preached that you need to get enough rest to really be an outstanding producer.

Very good question that all of us developers can relate to.

Bryan Sebastian
+1  A: 

I'm a night person myself. I sleep late and wake up late (and go to work late, much to the annoyment of my bosses). The thing is, I find it hard to sleep when there's these pieces of code dancing in my head.

I think this is the reason why most programmers love coffee as it helps them stay up late for coding sessions.

Actually, checking the definition for programmers, it says, "Programmers - one who converts coffee into code".

+4  A: 

Night owl here. I freelance and work from home, so I tend to just go to sleep when I go to sleep (usually 2-3am) and wake up when I wake up (usually 9-10am).

I suspect this tendency among programmers is primarily for historical reasons. Once upon a time, computers were a scarce resource, so the programmers would tend to work late at night simply because that was when the machines were available for their projects (as opposed to doing "real work") or when applications to do "real work" could be tested without disrupting normal business operations. It remains prevalent today largely due to having become part of the culture of programming.

Another likely contributing factor is that programmers, to one degree or another, seem prone to being somewhat individualistic and opposed to doing things solely because "that's the way it's done". Both early birds and night owls are present in all professions, but programmers are more likely than most to try to arrange things to fit their preferred schedules (and more likely than most to be able to succeed in doing so).

Dave Sherohman
My wife doesn't particularly enjoy this. And i've been making efforts to keep to a 9 - 5 type hours. The reality been it is more like 9:30 (Earlier if i wake up earlier) till around 6:30pm then more work after dinner and some tv 8pm - 10:30Depending upon urgency and interest levels.
+12  A: 

I reckon it happens this way because its the only way to get things done. During the day people are always interrupting you asking you to do bureaucratic stuff and wasting time. Programming needs concentration and to get in the zone the only time to do this is when there are no distraction - basically late at night.

+1 that is *so* true. I'm an independent consultant/developer and days are regularly hosed by phonecalls and the like.
I was going to say this same thing. Offices and office hours are not conductive to getting work done.
+18  A: 

My colleagues, professors, and I have agreed that this phenomenon is caused by a simple thirst to solve problems. Sleep is not conducive to a restless mind.

James Jones
wow... +1. I can't tell you how often that happens to me. Sometimes I don't even get up but I'm certainly thinking about whatever is vexing me about my current program.
Cj Anderson
I can't turn off my brain when I lay down to go to sleep. Instead, all I can think about is whatever Problem of the Day (TM) I had/have.
@James: hear hear!
BlueRaja - Danny Pflughoeft

I'm definitely more productive early in the day. The more I try to push myself to work late the less I get done. Like someone mentioned above, I try to plan my day to get the complicated stuff done early and the easy stuff later.

+2  A: 

I suspect there is some truth to the stereotype of the programmer who sleeps in and stays up late. At my current employer, the office hours are shifted from the daily convention of starting work at 9 through to about 5, to working from 9.30-5.30. Not a huge change, but the extra time makes a big difference in the mornings. It stems from the company being founded by programmers - if you went to work for 9AM, you'd be first at the office.

Since I work remotely from one timezone earlier, I can see when people's IM status changes as they log in.

It may also be one reason why programmers resent a regular office environment with fixed working hours, the conventional 9-5 daily grind. Certainly, I think flexi-time is a benefit greatly appreciated by programmers.

Finally, of course there are exceptions - determined by travel constraints, family, or just preference.


I like to work 8-3 or so, with minimal distractions. That's my optimal "gets stuff done" time. Staying up late usually results in somewhat confused thinking, I've noticed over time.

Paul Nathan
+2  A: 

I'm definitely a night owl. I think the night time seems to provide the stillness and quietness that allows the creativity to flow.

I figure the night time seems to work so much better because there are no distrations, even if you wanted to do those jobs around the house or go shopping it's a bit hard.


I know I certainly do.

Jeremy Cantrell

If I'm into a project I tend to just hack at it and when I get out of "the zone" (hunger strikes :P) it's usually quite late. I go to bed, and wake up later than the previous day. Each "cycle" I go to sleep later and later. When it gets bad, I just go to bed early and wake up in the morning.

Usually I don't have the time to spend that much on a project though, so I just work on it for a few hours at night.

Most of the night-owls probably have such sleeping patterns because of "the zone", you just get really productive and motivated and you can't stop. It could also be because it's quieter at night.

+3  A: 

Terms you are looking for are: Diurnal and Nocturnal. I'm more of a Nocturnal type.

Sweet... especially the "animal" part.

I'm neither a morning person or a night person. My most productive time of day is the afternoon, but apparently that doesn't qualify as a category.

JB King

My most productive time was usually late night when I was allowed to set my own schedule (read: college.) However, now that I work 8 AM - 4:30 (reality: 6:30) PM, I usually am too tired to work at that time. It's kind of a shame, though, since I don't find myself as productive early mornings. And it's not something that you just get used to, as one person suggested. Research has been done to confirm that some people really do work better at night with all other factors held even, including the work schedules that they are used to. Personally, I've been working "normal" hours for over a year and a half and it only seems to get harder with time.

While a large part of it is genetic tendencies to be alert at certain times of day, the lack of interruptions after everyone else leaves helps, too. While communication among team members is important, it often does take up more time than it probably should. Unfortunately, the tendency is for it to increase during major crunch times, which is when more, not less, time is needed for actual coding.


Dymaxion sleep is the key! Or maybe not... I wish I tried it and it worked, but haven't tried yet.

I'm a lot more of the night owl type. I often start coding like a beast past midnight to 1 AM. Really bad on health though.

Many friends of mine are also night owls. Well, maybe more evening owls...

For what I know, I'd answer yes to the title question.

M. Joanis
+1  A: 

IMHO one of the best skills a programmer can acquire is the ability to compartmentalize and decide to go to sleep and wake up 7 hours later and get fired up by the problem that they otherwise would have stayed up all fighting. It usually results in better, more thought out code in a shorter time.