Cats love to knock stuff over or push things off tables, and that leads to a lot of broken items. Are they mean-spirited animals that hate your stuff? Here's the truth, and how you can help prevent it.
Dr. Katherine Houpt, Cornell University emeritus professor of veterinary behaviour, suggests that cats knock things over for three main reasons: they're hungry, they want attention, or they're practising hunting.
Basically, they're just being themselves. This reasoning also explains why it seems your kitty only wants to knock things over at night when you're asleep. You can't give them attention or feed them if you forgot, and night time is when hunting instincts can kick in.
If you want to stop it, Houpt recommends you start by keeping them off your counters, either with double-sided tape or some other means, so they can't knock things over to begin with.
It might also help if they have a toy (like a fishing pole style toy) that lets them indulge in their "paw batting" behaviour without breaking stuff. You can learn more about the science behind your cat's seemingly rude behaviour at the link below.