Thursday, June 27, 2019

Early to bed, early to rise...

When I was in high school, I distinctly remember setting my alarm clock for 6 am so I had an hour to read in bed before getting ready for school. During summer vacations, I would often get up around 5 am just ... because.

Interestingly, in the summers when our schedule was flexible, I would often wake up just as my younger brother was going to bed. (To say he's a night owl barely hints at the degree of his nocturnal preference.)

You see, I'm a morning person.

When our girls were babies and toddlers, early mornings were my time. It was the only chance I had to get some writing done, drink a quiet cup of tea, and not have tiny children demanding my attention. When the girls grew out of that stage, my early morning "my time" continued -- a necessary compromise in a household where all work is done at home and everyone is together 24/7. We all need our "alone" time. Since Don is a natural night owl (though not quite as bad as my younger brother), he gets his "alone" time after I go to bed.

Now that our girls are grown and gone, my early bird habits continue. It's not unusual for me to pop out of bed at 4 am or even earlier. Just don't ask me to stay awake beyond 9 pm or I turn into a zombie.

Which is why I found this article so interesting: "Waking up early can make you healthier and wealthier — yet 95 percent of Americans hate mornings."

"A whopping 95 percent of Americans hate mornings, according to a new Ipsos survey commissioned by the Sargento cheese company," starts the article. "And 43 percent of people 'despise' the sound of their alarm clock, while 39 percent identify as 'slow risers' who need to ease into their day."

In a society that requires most people to show up for work at 8 or 9 am (or earlier), the night owls have it tough. On the other hand, I've had jobs where I worked nights, and that's just as tough (if not tougher, I like to think). That's one of the blessings Don and I have cultivated over our married life -- working from home allows us to set our own hours and work when we're freshest and most awake. It's also handy during winter when Don can stoke the woodstove before going to bed and I can stoke it when I get up, so the house stays cozy.

One preference (early bird vs. night owl) is not inherently superior to the other, despite the old proverbs about who gets the worm. As long as the work gets done, who cares when it's accomplished? However the characteristic does appear to be genetic.

Unfortunately for the night owls, most sleep-cycle advice articles tend to focus on how they can reprogram their internal clocks, something early birds are usually spared (no one calls us lazy if we go to bed at 9 pm).

So I guess the bottom line is Vive la différence. I'm glad there are night owls to work graveyard shifts when the early birds are in bed.


  1. I knew there was a reason I liked your writing! I'm a morning person like you. When the sun starts coming up, no matter how early, I start waking up and find it difficult to sleep after it's light. Although naps are welcome, especially reading an only somewhat interesting book or the why do I bother TV nonsense. Winters when it's dark later I wake up later.
    My belief of why 95% of people hate mornings tend to be that 95% of them hold jobs that they must do for whatever reason. If they worked from home, as in rural areas, farmers, ranchers, etc. all do. Doing things they choose to do, I think their morning likes and dislikes would change drastically. Doing things you have to do as opposed to things you want to do have a totally different mindset. I'm a morning person, yet I find it difficult to go to sleep much earlier than around 11pm, well after dark. Which leads to some somewhat short nights of sleep. Hey, that's what winters are for, right!

  2. Sounds like my marriage!

  3. My wife is an artist and does her best work in the early morning hours. I go to bed at 9:30 or 10 and get up early. When I was working I got up at 5 and now that I have been retired for 10 years that has slid to 6:30 or 7. The wife starts to stir about 10:00. It does make it hard to eat lunch together but we manage to eat supper at the same time almost every day.

  4. I am a night person. Seriously. I'll stay up till 4 am before I'll get up then. My husband gets up at 5:30 am no matter what. Oh well, it's worked now for 44 years.

  5. I've been called a morning person who doesn't know he's a morning person. I usually get up between 2:30 and 3:30; the alarm goes off at about 3:15 but I'm usually awake before then (weekends there's no alarm but I am usually up by 3:30, anyway). On the flip side, I am in bed around 8, which is well before sundown this time of year. It works out ok in terms of light, but it does impact my ability to have much of a life past 7 pm.

  6. My mother didn't believe there were "night owls" and "morning larks" until she had me. The three older children got up early (6 a) and went to bed early. Then I came along and stayed up late and slept in until 9. Over the years my waking hours have shifted somewhat and I have adjusted as needed for jobs and children. I feel best when I wake with the sun; and I go to sleep much earlier than in my younger days. However, this still presents a problem in the winter when the sun doesn't make an appearance until later here in the northern latitudes, and sets so early. I'd like to try living near the equator and have equal hours of day and night for a change.

  7. I was a night owl , up all night , Until at age 23 I got a job that started at 5:00 am , and have worked a few since that started at 4:30 am and I have been a morning person ever since ..I have not "worked" outside the home for 20 years now ,but most mornings I am up between 3:30 and 5:00 am ...but by 8:30 at night I am yawning and fighting to keep my eyes open ! I was forced to give up my night owl ways LOL !

  8. My best work is always in the morning. I have worked so long getting up early that most days I am up - whether I want to be or not - by 0530. Where this has been a problem is getting myself to go to bed at an hour which allows me to get enough sleep.

    I think for so many, they hate their alarm clocks because it means they have to get up to go to a life they do not like.

  9. Reminds me of a poem by Shel Silverstein. One stanza goes something like: "So, if you're a bird, get up early, but if you're a worm, sleep late."