TOKiMONSTA Proves You Don’t *Have* to Be a Morning Person to Be Successful

The Grammy-nominated music producer taps into her most creative self — and finds her groove — at night.

TOKiMONSTA performing at a show
© cameralady

I am unequivocally, 100,000% a night owl. I'm always staying up late. Even as a kid, I was a late riser. I work in a nocturnal-ish industry as a DJ and music producer, so luckily, it’s not a problem.

But if I had a different job, I’d probably still naturally wake up late.

Society makes us feel bad about starting the day later

There is a deeply ingrained societal pressure to be a morning person. There’s definitely a stigma, that people who wake up late are lazy. “The early bird gets the worm,” and all that.

And there’s always this lingering, judge-y question hanging in the air for those who opt out of early rising, like, “How are you efficient with your day if you don't wake up early?” It almost makes you feel bad for not striving for the social ideal of “being up by sunrise.”

Well, that's not how my day works. I don't work a standard job. I once read an article about Mark Wahlberg’s routine. He gets up at 4:30 in the morning to work out. And I thought, "No, not for me."

I wake up late, and I'm very efficient with how I use my day. I work the same number of hours as anyone else, honestly. And now that I'm more accomplished in my career, I can defend myself and say, “I don't have to wake up early because I have to work late at night when I DJ. That’s how my life is structured, and I like it that way. While you guys are eating breakfast, I wake up just in time for brunch. And that works for me."

My sleep depends on my work schedule — before COVID, there would be weeks where I would DJ four days in a row. When I'm performing late, it keeps me up. It's like doing cardio at midnight — you’re really wired.

There's so much peace at night that I can connect with

TOKiMONSTA at a performance
© cameralady

It allows my brain to really wander without distractions. No one's bothering you that late. Everyone's asleep, and you're just left alone with your thoughts. And I really like that.

In the evenings, there's that peace and space that allows my brain to wander, like being in a dream. And sometimes, I feel like I'm a lot more focused. The lack of distractions allows my brain to make different connections — because creativity is always about connections your brain is making. Sometimes during the day, it feels like I'm touching upon ideas that are at arm’s length. But at night, with fewer distractions, I can delve even further into that idea in my brain.

I even think that the music I make at night is very different from what I make during the day. Most of my upbeat music or music that has a happier or more joyful tone tends to be made in the daytime. At night, the music is much calmer — very dreamy. You can always tell when I made something at night because it sounds vibe-y or deeper.

Ideally, I like going to sleep around 2 a.m. and waking up around 10 a.m.

The main thing is I try to wake up between 10 and 10:30 a.m. every day. That way, I can have a tiny bit of juice for breakfast and maybe answer one or two emails to keep me tapped into what’s going on that day.

After that, I decide if I want to make music that day. I don't work every day because creativity is not a machine. And if I force myself to make music when I'm not in the mood, it's never good. So, if I don't feel creative, I make other plans. I watch Netflix, I call my friends, or I go out to eat.

I know I’ll be super-productive as long as I get the correct amount of sleep.. I like sleeping eight hours, but I perform better with between seven to seven-and-a-half hours. I try to make sure I get some daylight in the mornings just to set my circadian rhythm.

And even if I go to bed late, I have my limits. I always try to go to sleep before the sun rises. For people who work even later hours — like anyone on the graveyard shift — I would advise finding healthy ways to sleep the correct hours you need to function. I think it’s important to try to avoid daylight when you should be sleeping.

The wind-down routine that works for me

I’ve tried lots of things to help create a wind-down routine at bedtime. I'm trying to watch less TV right before bed because I think screen time has a pretty profound effect on my sleep quality. I try to use a meditation app, and that helps a lot.

Reading works, too. But it can’t be too stimulating or something I can't put down. Bedtime reading has to be borderline interesting, but also borderline a little boring, like a biography of Marilyn Monroe. I also have blackout curtains, and I sleep with earplugs. My bedroom is basically a dark, cold, quiet box.

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