When a dog gets the zoomies, they run around the house at breakneck speeds and bounce off the walls and couches, usually before falling right back asleep. When a person gets the zoomies, they can do any number of things — rise up from the couch to do a little dance, perhaps, or go on a random cleaning spree. On TikTok, this phenomenon has been dubbed “adult zoomies” — and it’s too real.
While it can happen at any time, the inexplicable burst of energy — aka the zoomie — tends to hit late at night. In a video on TikTok, comedian Hannah Berner said that she spends the whole day exhausted, but often gets adult zoomies around 11 p.m., at which point she rapidly scrolls social media, Googles random things, and remembers everything embarrassing she’s ever said. This resonated with her followers: “It’s midnight and I feel the need to clean my entire apartment and view every Insta story,” wrote one TikToker, while another commented “Normalize adult human zoomies.”
For others, the zoomies call them to dance around their apartment at 2 a.m. or act a bit unhinged with friends. (This trend isn’t set to the viral wackadoodle time audio clip for nothing.) The joy of TikTok, of course, is realizing that you aren’t the only one with a quirky habit like this. In fact, judging by all the likes and comments on these videos, it seems like adult zoomies are pretty darn common. If you want to know exactly why they happen, though, keep on scrolling for an expert’s take.
What Causes Adult Zoomies?
If you move through the day in a stupor of exhaustion, then suddenly feel lively at 11 p.m., it could be related to your body’s circadian rhythm, says Dr. Carly Claney, a licensed psychologist in Seattle, Washington. This is your internal biological clock that regulates your sleep-wake cycle, and it’s pretty easy to throw out of whack by staying up too late.
“If you're typically awake and active [around 11 p.m.], your brain might be conditioned to switch on,” she tells Bustle. “Also, some people are naturally night owls who are more alert and productive in the late evening hours.” So a late-night zoomie might just mean you’re perkier at night.
Adult zoomies can also be a sign that you need a little exercise. As Claney says, “If you've been sedentary for a while, your body may crave movement and lead to a sudden motivation or desire to get up and do something.” When that’s the case, it’ll feel good to get up and jump around or dance as a way to shake off excess energy. You could try scheduling your workouts for the early evenings to avoid that late-night burst of energy.
No surprises here, but anxiety might also be to blame. “Stress or anxiety can lead to late-night mental activity, as quiet hours may leave space for overthinking or worry,” Claney says. Hint: It’s why it often feels so much better to scroll social media to keep your mind busy instead of sitting with your own thoughts.
Lastly, if you’re hit with zoomies at 11 p.m. — at any other hour, for that matter — it could be from a surge of hormones like cortisol or adrenaline. “[These] are produced in response to stress, excitement, or danger, and can temporarily boost energy and alertness,” Claney explains. Fun fact? This is why dogs get zoomies. Running around after getting a bath, for instance, helps them get rid of pent-up stress.
Is It OK To Get Adult Zoomies?
The short answer is yes. Adult zoomies can even be useful, Claney says. If you feel a sudden burst of energy at night, you can harness it to quickly do a few chores, send a couple of emails, or whatever else feels right. That said, “it's important to listen to your body's needs and ensure you're maintaining a balanced sleep schedule and managing stress appropriately,” she adds. It might be wackadoodle time, but you still need to get some sleep.
Reddy, S. (2022). Physiology, Circadian Rhythm. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2023 Jan–. PMID: 30137792.
Dr. Carly Claney, licensed psychologist in Seattle, Washington
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