Are musicians bound to be night-persons?

FFFF

Senior Member
While looking up for hints and tips on working at home to improve my disciplinary struggles, everyone basically suggested beating the crowd by waking up in the early morning for maximum productivity. By that, they usually suggest 5-7am mornings.

There are already lots of scientific explanation (ie. Circadian Rhythm, etc.) that already suggest human beings live healthier and become more productive when they start their days in the morning (not late-mornings/afternoon!) I'm not qualified to explain the reasonings myself but I'm certain this is slowly becoming general knowledge by now.

But then it got me wondering: Is it possible for gigging musicians to become morning persons, without disrupting the 7-8 hour optimal sleep period?

I myself have longed to be come a morning person for quite sometime now. While I currently have a lot of flexibility with my schedule at the moment, I still think it is rather challenging for gigging musicians to be morning birds without compromising sleeping hours.

1) We can agree that majority of gigs are usually set in late-evenings to night time. Put in the setup/teardown into consideration, the job is usually done by a later timing.

2) Even if there are day gigs, I find it hard to arrange rehearsal times before dinner time. Our rehearsals are usually on weekday evenings/nights, or even weekend nights since most of my bandmates have dayjobs to fulfil, and some do shiftwork in the commercial industry (I myself work in education enrichment, so weekends are usually filled with work), so afternoon weekend rehearsals are usually out of the question.

Has anyone been able to strike a balance between being a morning person and gigging at night? I'd love to hear about how you are able to do so!
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
When I was gigging, I would set my sleep schedule around my job, keeping practice time in mind (7pm, Tuesday and Thursday). If I worked an 8-5, I would get up at 6am. When I worked midnight to 8am, I would get up at 5pm. And when I worked 4pm to midnight, I would get up at 2pm.

I love to sleep. I would always make sure I have myself 8 hours each night/day, plus at least 2 hours to get ready for work/practice each day. When we would play gigs, I would just deal with it and recover from the schedule change the next day.

I haven't gigged since 2002. That's a whole nother story. But I still maintain getting up 2 hours before work. Even on days off I still try to get up early so not to disrupt my schedule. I now get up at 4am to be to work at 6. I don't see myself changing jobs, so if I retire at 65, I've got about 22 years of getting up at 4am left.

So no, I don't think all musicians become night people. Even when I was active, maintaining an income was more important than playing, because that income allowed me to live and be able to play/gig. That and I like the sun.
 

Old Dog new Cans

Senior Member
I worked 3rd shift for about 25 years or more. Now, I'm no longer working that shift, AND I STRUGGLE--BAD. My body is completely upside down. I feel lethargy most days and wake up around 10 or 11pm because that was prime time when I was working.

My point is, I think it has a lot do with HOW MUCH the musician gigs. Is it a weekend deal, or are they touring and traveling a lot. I think it's difficult personally. When I was working that shift, I'd start at 7pm, get home hopefully, by 430am (had an hr long drive home). I would hopefully sleep until noon. Early on, I would sleep until dark sometimes, never seeing sunshine--that sucked.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
If you are a creature of habit and you are gigging you will likely benefit from a routine sleep schedule, so yes, you will be better off as a night person. The scientific studies that focus on creating an "average" fail in many ways and shouldn't be taken as personal advise or even taken seriously at all frankly.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
I wouldn’t put to much credence on one study- the author states so and gives explanations that confounding factors also explain it. It doesn’t mean if your a night owl you will be unhealthy and die sooner. After 60 seems you naturally wake early. But I don’t want to rain on the parade so continue on.
 

Stroman

Platinum Member
I don't know, but I personally have struggled with sleep as it relates to gigging. I am naturally a morning person - I wake up early, no matter what. Even if I get home at 3:30 A.M. I'm going to wake up by 7:00 A.M. So, back when I was gigging regularly, I often suffered from a lack of sleep. It was one of my least favorite things about about gigging, really. When I was younger, it was unpleasant, and if I gigged often enough, I would get run down and get sick. Now that I'm older, it's misery after just a night or two, and that's one of the reasons I just don't gig much these days.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
I've kind of suspected this. It makes me sad that there aren't more day-time music related events.

There are definitely cultures that play music during the day. Sometimes, it is sad to see bar bands during the day.
 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Oh come on because someone shows a correlation doesn't mean there is one-especially epidemiological studies. I got plenty of nice correlations that ended up squat-because it was another pathway that also correlated that was the real deal-it depends on what you focus on. I know plenty of people who have worked shift work for decades-healthy as a horse. It's getting exercise, hours of sleep, healthy diet-the issues with night owls is often only fast food open early morn hours, lack of exercise, and not getting the needed sleep, or too much smoking and drinking. Most people acclimate to their new time-sort of like the Space travel where you don't have a normal 24 hours cycle. Some folks genetically don't need that much sleep-much like alcohol intolerance. We run into plenty of stressors-it's how we deal with them determines outcomes. Just staying inside can be stressful=work and home environment studies with poor ventilation carbon dioxide can reach levels 5000 ppm-which has no adverse effects we regulate all that through lungs and kidneys, etc but VOC's also build up-volatile organic compounds (that we produce to) that has huge negative health impacts. Crazy isn't it-I think about that in space travel. Studies do show working conditions of long hours and a lack of sleep do have negative impacts so I'm not saying the study is bonkers-it may have further support exactly so-but we should always be cautious of one study.
 
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GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
Humans are very adaptable. I worked at a hospital for 15 years and saw people come and go for basically 3 shifts. The 8-5 shift for administrators and some techs, like radiology etc, nursing shifts that were the same. Nursing shifts that were 7am to 7pm, then 7pm to 7am, some 3 and 4 days per week, and some five. I knew fireman that worked 10 hours day shifts, 14 hour night shifts and rotated. i would say nurses and firefighters, to name a few need to be awake and alert at all times, so it is what you get used to. Musicians, who want to make money, must work weekends and nights, since the normal non-musical working world works day and off weekends. If you work 9-5 and then work 9-2 AM as a musician you will suffer at some point in my opinion. I did it for a while DJ'ing at night thengetting up with 4 hours sleep and was worthless the next day. I do believe many people do adapt but see it being harder as one ages.
 

SmoothOperator

Gold Member
Oh come on because someone shows a correlation doesn't mean there is one-especially epidemiological studies. I got plenty of nice correlations that ended up squat-because it was another pathway that also correlated that was the real deal-it depends on what you focus on. I know plenty of people who have worked shift work for decades-healthy as a horse. It's getting exercise, hours of sleep, healthy diet-the issues with night owls is often only fast food open early morn hours, lack of exercise, and not getting the needed sleep, or too much smoking and drinking. Most people acclimate to their new time-sort of like the Space travel where you don't have a normal 24 hours cycle. Some folks genetically don't need that much sleep-much like alcohol intolerance. We run into plenty of stressors-it's how we deal with them determines outcomes. Just staying inside can be stressful=work and home environment studies with poor ventilation carbon dioxide can reach levels 5000 ppm-which has no adverse effects we regulate all that through lungs and kidneys, etc but VOC's also build up-volatile organic compounds (that we produce to) that has huge negative health impacts. Crazy isn't it-I think about that in space travel. Studies do show working conditions of long hours and a lack of sleep do have negative impacts so I'm not saying the study is bonkers-it may have further support exactly so-but we should always be cautious of one study.
I think light synchronization is a pretty fundamental biology. Melatonin and all is pretty well understood biology. There are nerve endings that go from eye directly to the suprachiasmatic nucleus(SCN) that regulates circadian rhythms. Babies can see light (but not images) as soon as they are born so that they can start daylight synchronization. I personally prefer to observe sunrise, sunset, and noon time sun.

 

GetAgrippa

Platinum Member
Yes those circadian rhythms I'm familiar-cortisol goes up in morning, etc. Melatonin and it's influence on other hormones. The cell signaling clock proteins have been identified in fruit flies and mice (using mutations) and generally circadian rhythms have greater significance in lower mammals. Various organs have different circadian rhythms besides well known hormones and they are all interrelated physiologically-hormonally. Still significant in humans because melatonin and cortisol production are interrelated with each other and regulating circadian rhythms of other organs and other hormones. Melatonin can suppress cortisol secretion. The big thing in humans with altering circadian cycle is it increases your risks of diabetes and inflammation. Some things willl compensate and maintain a normal cycle-like cortisol in morning, epinephrine surges, and glucose, but insulin and norepi. and fat metabolism hormones get wacky-increasing risk for diabetes and increasing inflammation (cortisol suppress your immune system). It's really too long a story to tell on here-but I taught anatomy and physiology so that was part. There is sleep deprivation and sleep-wake misalignment issues-and the bigger problems come from a lack of sleep. People take exogenous melatonin though. I can really bore with neuro part-did neurophysiology on lobster olfaction and raccoon somatosensory cortex EWWwwwwww! Naw it's fun stuff. We'd eat the lobsters-never ate a raccoon but they say they are tasty LOL. Main thing with sunlight is Vitaming D-you synthesize most in your skin from cholesterol.
 
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DrumDoug

Senior Member
I joke with a guitar player friend of mine that Fridays are our 24 hour days. I get up at 5:30 to be at work by 8:00. Most of the time I have to leave straight from work to a gig. I get home between 3:00 and 4:00 the next morning. It's just part of being a weekend warrior. You give up sleep to do what you love.
 

danondrums

Well-known member
I don’t want to derail the thread topic, but I’m curious why you mean by this?
Because if 60% of the people perform better as day people and 40% perform better as night people and all that is concluded is that people perform better as day people then 40% of the people are taking bad advice by focusing on the average.
 

PorkPieGuy

Platinum Member
Is it possible for gigging musicians to become morning persons, without disrupting the 7-8 hour optimal sleep period?
Yes.

BUT, you may have to make a few changes which may include playing a different genre of music; playing other places besides clubs/bars, etc.; and only limiting your late-night gigs to days off the next day (if you work first shift).

I've played several different instruments and LOTS of different genres of music, and I've had a number of different experiences, so I'll lend some of these no-late-night gigs here.

Gigs I've played that didn't lend themselves to late nights:

Family reunions - May sound silly, but people loved it! Got to play with some other really cool musicians too. (played guitar, hammered dulcimer, and percussion)

Down-home-type festivals (e.g. apple festival, pumpkin fesitvals, etc.) (Played drums, guitar, percussion)

Churches - Believe it or not, there was a time that you could gig just playing Christian-based music that wasn't of the praise and worship variety. The only time I've ever "toured" professionally was playing at churches 6 nights a week. We were done and packed up by 9pm every night). (Played guitar, drums, keys, bass)

Stores - I used to play and sell a crap-ton of CDs at a local general store. It was some of the best money I ever made as a musician (Played hammered dulcimer and mountain dulcimer)

Benefits/Fundraisers - I've never played a benefit that went on and on through the night, but it's rare I get paid for those too. Feel free to scratch this one off your list (played drums, guitar, percussion, etc.)

Coffee shop - We have never had any late-night coffee shops around here. (Played guitar, hammered dulcimer, drums)

Pumpkin patch/Corn-maze-type places - Set up the PA, sit around and jam for a few hours, get paid and go home! Our shift was usually something like 1-3 in the afternoon. (played drums)

Weddings - Never played a reception. Only played ceremonies (played piano, hammered dulcimer). One and done. If you can take the pressure, it's easy money.

Small stages at big music festivals - I've done this, and none of the small stages ever go late into the night like the big stages do.

Biker rides: This is a new one on me, but I've played a few biker rides this year. One thing I learned is that bikers who like to do rides only ride during the day. Every ride I've done has been over by around 3-4pm.

I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting. If you really want to get home, play outdoor stuff but leave your lights at home. Tell the organizers something like "We are happy to play, but we don't have a lighting rig, so we can't play past dark. We also need to see to tear down." We got out an hour early from a gig just last night by doing so.
 

Dr_Watso

Platinum Member
My only issue is the times when you hit the stage at 11pm or whatever, the late headline shows, I feel tired. I feel as though I'm not performing the same as if I was "fresh" without a full day of nonsense tiring my brain.

I try to sleep in more when I have shows to play late, and I've also taken to "clearing my mind" with meditation on some gig days. Not really that worried about catching up out of schedule but there have been times where it's like the world is against you getting a full night sleep and things just keep you up late/waking up early for like 4 days.

Those long spells of little sleep can take a toll.
 

FFFF

Senior Member
Thanks for your input everyone! I'm glad to see that I'm not the only person who finds juggling day work and night gigs to be a challenge.

Good to hear from the other side of the argument too. I do agree to an extent that research findings can't and shouldn't be taken as facts. But I suppose the Circadian Rhythm is factual though.

I can definitely relate to those long near-24 hour days. For a person who only reached the third decade of life not too long ago, I can already see the drastic difference of getting through a day with 6 hours of sleep compared to 7+. Gone were the days where I get through 17 hour days of university courses, work and extensive practice with 2 hours of sleep, which is partially responsible for messing up my sleep cycle and caused me a period of sleeping disorder. This is why I want to establish a routine; one that is most natural to a human being possible.

Yes.

BUT, you may have to make a few changes which may include playing a different genre of music; playing other places besides clubs/bars, etc.; and only limiting your late-night gigs to days off the next day (if you work first shift).

I've played several different instruments and LOTS of different genres of music, and I've had a number of different experiences, so I'll lend some of these no-late-night gigs here.

Gigs I've played that didn't lend themselves to late nights:

Family reunions - May sound silly, but people loved it! Got to play with some other really cool musicians too. (played guitar, hammered dulcimer, and percussion)

Down-home-type festivals (e.g. apple festival, pumpkin fesitvals, etc.) (Played drums, guitar, percussion)

Churches - Believe it or not, there was a time that you could gig just playing Christian-based music that wasn't of the praise and worship variety. The only time I've ever "toured" professionally was playing at churches 6 nights a week. We were done and packed up by 9pm every night). (Played guitar, drums, keys, bass)

Stores - I used to play and sell a crap-ton of CDs at a local general store. It was some of the best money I ever made as a musician (Played hammered dulcimer and mountain dulcimer)

Benefits/Fundraisers - I've never played a benefit that went on and on through the night, but it's rare I get paid for those too. Feel free to scratch this one off your list (played drums, guitar, percussion, etc.)

Coffee shop - We have never had any late-night coffee shops around here. (Played guitar, hammered dulcimer, drums)

Pumpkin patch/Corn-maze-type places - Set up the PA, sit around and jam for a few hours, get paid and go home! Our shift was usually something like 1-3 in the afternoon. (played drums)

Weddings - Never played a reception. Only played ceremonies (played piano, hammered dulcimer). One and done. If you can take the pressure, it's easy money.

Small stages at big music festivals - I've done this, and none of the small stages ever go late into the night like the big stages do.

Biker rides: This is a new one on me, but I've played a few biker rides this year. One thing I learned is that bikers who like to do rides only ride during the day. Every ride I've done has been over by around 3-4pm.

I'm sure there are others that I'm forgetting. If you really want to get home, play outdoor stuff but leave your lights at home. Tell the organizers something like "We are happy to play, but we don't have a lighting rig, so we can't play past dark. We also need to see to tear down." We got out an hour early from a gig just last night by doing so.
Thanks! And yes I'd definitely like to play in more of those gigs! Our band aims to cater for weddings, and we're slowly gaining momentum. But I must say festival gigs and even coffee shops can be quite competitive in dense urban cities though. Will need to up our game!

I wonder if there are people who make a living solely by gigging exclusively during the day. I used to jam with a keyboardist in his 60s who makes a living by playing exclusively in a local club. While he'll most likely be a night person, I wish I'd ask him about how he copes.
 

nolibos

Member
I am a total morning person. Every gig or rehearsal totally messes me up. Thankfully Jazz gigs are few and far between.
 

Morrisman

Platinum Member
I feel sorry for the army/navy musicians who have to play an evening concert or dinner, then front up to a dawn service at 5am. That would throw me right out of sync.
 
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