"Indians are sleeping less" - according to a recent cover story in India Today.
A study by AC Nielsen reveals that 46% of Indians sleep less than 6 hours a day. And 64% apparently wake up prior to 7 am - among the highest in the world.
Well, I for one am part of the other 36%. I rarely wake up before 7 am. I guess I am an 'owl' who is most productive and vibrant during the night. Not as extreme as Ekta Kapoor - she apparently sleeps only agter 4 am and that too for just 5 hours. But yes, I do love my nights.
Night is when I get to watch TV/ surf the net/ read in peace. And write, too. It's when I feel a sense of space and freedom in a house - and life - I share with other people.
The late shift
When I was in school, I remember 10 o'clock was standard bedtime. 11 o'clock was considered LATE. There was an alarm clock- cum-radio next to my bed and sometimes I'd lie awake till 11.30 - till Vividh Bharati's last transmission - and feel quite cool.
Today, kids are routinely awake till 11 pm in many Indian homes. Parents come home late from work, for one. If you leave at 8 am and return at 9 pm - when will your child see you at all, if he sleeps by old English timings?
Then there's 24 hour TV - you stay awake to watch inane movies or just randomly channel surf. For young people, late night is about the only time the remote is in their independent possession. Because prime time means saas bahu serials for moms and NDTV/ CNBC for dads. And not many homes - yet - have two TVs.
If you're the kind who now works for a living, late night TV viewing is kind of like unwinding. You hope - in those 100 channels - something will seduce you, reduce the mental exhaustion of the day gone by.
Ditto for net-surfing.
Nights are for man-made pleasures like clubbing while early mornings are for natural ones like walks in parks. You may not be the partying type, but if you're a young person - chances are you prefer the buzz of the night.
This, of course, may not be a matter of choice if you are in an engineering or MBA hostel where nobody sleeps before 2 am. When I was at IIM A Rambhai's bun omlets was the stuff of legend. Try eating it in the daytime and you'd puke at the ghastly pink tomato ketchup!
Of course, we did also have a group known as the 7.30 Breakfast Club which lived up to its name and had breakfast each day at precisely 7.30. I was not, at any point of time, in the running for membership.
Bottomline: There is a mysterious, somewhat kinky pleasure to staying up late. Ask yourself, why did India awake to light and freedom at the stroke of the midnight hour... Not 6 am?