Saturday, January 17, 2015

Being a Night Person in a Morning Person Society

As long as I can remember there has always been a great deal of emphasis on being a being an early riser. In Western culture it's considered a high virtue to be busy early in the morning. We even have so many sayings that express this.

The early bird catches the worm.
Up and at 'em.
First thing in the morning.
Top of the morning.
Rise and shine..

There's many more, but those are the ones that come to mind at the moment.

It's considered an act of productivity, and enthusiasm to be up early getting a jump start on one's day. So, what if you're not a morning person? Does that mean you're lazy, and unproductive? Do you still get things done, or are you missing out as the daylight burns away while you snooze? Is there such a thing as a morning person?

Many of those questions aren't so easy to answer. Many of them a lot of you may have never even thought about fully. I think it's just a given that school, and work starts at a certain time, and we have to participate in those things, so we do.

I have read numerous studies, and articles over the years, but in this entry I am mostly going from my own experience. I do know a little bit about sleep, and how it relates to science, but I don't want to turn this into one of those articles where I just list a bunch of facts that I found on the internet.

I firmly believe there most definitely is such a thing as a morning person. I think the main way to be certain of this is to not be one! I have never been fond of waking up before 8 AM, but my severe morning fatigue goes beyond preference. I can get myself up, and be anywhere I need to be punctually. I've never been one that was late to early appointments, or that overslept to the point my kids were ever late to school. How I know that I am definitely a later in the day person is not by when I awaken as much as when I go to sleep. Being a mom of autistic children my sleep schedule has not been routine, or anywhere near normal for 13 years. It doesn't matter what time I wake up, or how sleep deprived I am, or even to some degree if I am sick, I will almost never be able to fall asleep before midnight. It doesn't matter if I woke up at 4 AM that day, or that I need to the next day.  I am seriously jealous of the people that can basically just decide to go to bed early, and fall asleep. On the same token, I am seriously irritated with them when they tell me to do so to relieve my sleep issues. Really? Go to bed early to get more rest? I never thought of that! Wow, what a novel idea! I don't obviously say those sarcastic things out loud, but it's what I always think when someone gives me the ol' 'You should try going to bed earlier' advice. I really have tried. I've tried reading, meditating, relaxation exercises, and more. I really have given the go to sleep early method a good, honest try. What generally happens is that I lie there in bed tossing, and turning as I listen enviously as my husband saws logs. Even worse, every hour that ticks by I become more, and more anxious about how much sleep I am not getting. I begin to do so much math. I count down how long I have until I have to get up, and when that time gets below 5 hrs I begin to try to rework how I can wake up later. If I skip this, then I can sleep until that. This mental gymnastics don't relax me. They do anything but. I have even removed all alarm clocks from my bedroom in hopes of quelling my anxiety about what time it is, and how I have not fallen asleep yet. It does make it worse when I keep glancing at the clock, because I get so much more anxious when I know I need to be asleep, but can't. It did help with the anxiety, but not as much with the falling asleep before midnight end of the equation.

My husband on the other hand, is one that can, and does sleep with ease. He requires a lot of sleep. He falls asleep either before, or after dinner every night, and then goes on to sleep at least 6-8 hrs every during the night. I had a thought the other day as I awoke groggy in the morning to get my son off to school. What if I sleep in, and my husband gets up in the morning? It's something I'd never thought to ask, but it seemed like it could work. I would be able to stay up late, and sleep in on my natural rhythm. To my surprise, he was more than happy to oblige, and for the last two weeks I have gotten 8 hrs of sleep a night for the first time in over a decade. My anxiety at night is better, and I am able to enjoy my time alone instead of being so wound up about knowing I need to be getting to sleep. My energy levels are peeking in the late afternoon like they always do, and I am still a being productive. I am just now well rested, and feeling much healthier.

There's always opportunities to find solutions if we're willing to look outside of the conventional norm, and see the other possibilities.


  1. When my kids went to school we did this...I have NEVER been a morning person, and being Autistic, and coming alive at night, and having Fibromyalgia, my therapist finally told me to STOP scheduling anything before eleven unless it is an emergency...and he said not to explain because people like to deconstruct explanations. Just to simply say, "Oh I have a prior appointment- can it be later in the day or another afternoon please?" I have now been doing this for years and have not left my house before eleven unless it was an emergency or by some odd choice of mine. I also homeschool my three kids on the scale and they all fall asleep later and wake up around nine every works for us...and we have tons of energy in the evening to make up for our morning time of rest...I think the reason why north americans are so ill is they follow this model whereas a lot of European healthy countries take siestas or more time to rest as well as work hard when they do work. I pretend I am in that culture and make others work around me. It's not easy but I let go of the guilt long ago...because I realized a secret:) I am now a whole relaxed , mostly content person and I am never frenzied anymore...because I just say No to many things I thought I had to say yes to...and I make it work for me...and I love most of my existence...and it has to do with sleep and boundaries...and even my friends who have beautiful lives, seem to be yanked by the chain of society a little too much, and I can't help but wonder - if they took the very brave step off that line, if they too would realize it is not so hard to do, and incredibly hard at the same time...and comes with more gains than loses....( anyway- sorry that was a blab!) great post! So glad you are getting sleep!
    P.S. even when my kids were in school- my therapist told me to tell the school we would always be an hour late due to health reasons and if they wanted a note I could get one...because we were all better for it...and most of that time is ridiculously wasted anyway and just preparing them for 9-5 jobs that I know my children will not be in...I am trying to teach them self skills to make their own way or for them to think outside that box too:) So we were always walking in around first recess and I can honestly say- they didn't miss anything.

    1. I think you have so many valid points in your comment that I can't think of much else to say, other than I just love, and agree with every last thing you said. You, and I are a lot alike, and I think if we knew each other on real life we'd be great friends!

  2. That is so refreshing to hear! Thank you!!!:) I think we would be great friends too!:)


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