Sunday, December 2, 2012

Good morning, sunshine

North American society isn't friendly to a night owl. I come from a family of late to bed, late to risers, so it took me awhile to realize the rest of Canada was running on a different schedule. When I was in Grade Six, I called my friend at 9:15 p.m. on a Friday night and can still remember the horror in her mother's voice. "It's after nine o'clock," she hissed at me, as if I had just egged their house or committed some other deviant act. I got my payback a few years later when the same friend called me at 8:00 a.m. on a Saturday morning "just to say hi".

By high school, I had noticed a distinct correlation between my lowest grades and the 8:15 a.m. time slot and began arranging my semester schedule to compensate for this built-in handicap. First period spare, anyone? In one unfortunate year when I couldn't push back my start time, I was late so many times that I was threatened with suspension. This led to the ridiculous day where I arrived at 8:17 a.m. and had to skip my class completely, because the consequence of missing all sixty minutes of the class was a detention, but missing the first two minutes meant a three-day suspension.

Around this time I started contemplating a move to Europe, land of the siesta and 9:00 p.m. dinners. My mind drifted to a warm, happy place of dancing all night and sleeping all day, a paradise where I would never need an alarm clock again. Sadly a lack of traveling funds and love for my boyfriend kept me in Canada, where university provided a brief respite from a world ruled by morning people before graduation and full-time employment brought back the tyranny. On top of baggy eyes and dull skin, the return of early mornings promptly added an extra twenty pounds to my exhausted body, as I tried to cope with my violated sleep cycle and obscenely perky co-workers by stuffing myself with doughnuts and chocolate.

Then came parenting, the great leveller. My inner mean girl snickered when I heard all those early birds squawking about how tired they were now that they had kids. Welcome to my world, I wanted to say. Getting up at 2:00 a.m. with a baby has never been overly stressful for me, because my body wants to be awake then anyway. Not being able to sleep in on the weekend could be difficult, but I have a kind husband who gets up with the kids, having been brought up in a household that actually wakes up at 7:00 a.m. on Sunday morning on purpose before heading out for a grease-laden breakfast.

A smoother adjustment to parenthood is one thing, but I recently learned of the ultimate reward for a lifetime of torturous mornings and being mocked as a sloth. Researchers have discovered a gene mutation that suggests night owls live six hours longer than morning people. Guess the early bird catches more than the worm.

23 comments:

  1. That's comforting to hear, as one firmly in the 'night owl' camp, though I think your dreams of Europe may be firmly classified as 'Mediterranean', as here in chilly Britain we have some of the longest working hours around (as I recall) and it's not so much a case of 'siesta' as 'exhaustion' nor '9pm dinner' as 'this is the earliest we're both around to eat it. I think one of my worst working days began before 7.30am and ended at about midnight. And it wasn't even all paid due to apparent lack of time management skills having left a backlog which needed sorting out for a parents evening the next day *sigh*.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As I was writing this, I even thought "this doesn't really apply to Britain!" I've had one of those terrible working days too. It makes it hard to read about some of the European Union countries complaining about going from 40 paid days vacation a year to 35, or having to work 35 hours a week instead of 30. Seriously?? Are you kidding me?

      It's not that I think the North American/British way is right - I think we are complete workaholics who could use a significant adjustment in the other direction. But it's ridiculous to complain about 35 vacation days a week and expect the rest of the world to be sympathetic.

      Delete
    2. OH fortunate countries under our dear Queen - I wonder if Oz has the same problem...

      40 days a year? I didn't know that. We're lucky to get 28 (with 8 of these reserved to cover bank holidays!) You're right about needing a readjustment. Wonder how it can be achieved.

      Delete
    3. LOL I just noticed I said 35 vacation days a week. Guess I'm a little more sleep deprived than I thought.

      Now I'm curious about Australia too!

      Delete
  2. I'm not sure that the extra 6 hours is worth all the disadvantages of being a night owl.

    I spent most of my life being 5 minutes late for every morning class and every job. I was constantly under final warning. The early risers are so smug and do not understand.

    "Just set your alarm 5 minutes earlier!"

    Hey do not understand that when the alarm goes off, no matter what time it is not a concious decision to try and squeeze out an extra 5 minutes!

    I am now retired and love staying up as late as I wish, often past 3 or 4 am and sleeping as long as I wish. FOrtunately Mrs Cranke is also a night owl.

    Great post, hit home

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Is it weird that I'm looking forward to retirement for exactly this reason? Whenever I have vacation coming up, the anticipation of reverting to my natural sleep cycle is one of the best things about it.

      Delete
  3. GAH! I am definitely a night owl. Morning is NOT my friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me neither. I thought I might grow out of it, but no such luck. I've just gotten used to being permanently exhausted. When I'm on vacation and sleep on my own schedule, I feel so good it's like I'm superwoman or something.

      Delete
  4. I am a morning person. I can't stand it, but it is what it is. I have never in my life slept later than 9:30, and I've only done that a handful of times, even in college. It's irritating as all get out when I've stayed up really late the night before, yet my eyes still pop open at 7:15 for no reason I can find.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think it's interesting that you don't like being a morning person. Most larks I know revel in it. Although I can see how you wouldn't appreciate waking up early regardless of what time you got to sleep.

      Delete
  5. I had to laugh that there would be a researchers discovering such a gene like this. I'm a morning person, hubby and son are night owls. Guess they'll have six hours of partying without me!! I

    betty

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's crazy, isn't it? I laughed when I read back a few posts on your blog and saw how you wrote about your son's late-night eating habits. My similar habits have ruined many a diet.

      Delete
  6. I've had sleep issues for as long as I can remember, a lot of it related to my medical condition. I was a night owl in my 20s because I used to go to clubs practically every night of the week despite having to be at work at 8am. Now that I'm square and boring, I can barely stay awake past 11. I think a lot of it has to do with my medication, though. Oh, and I'm up at like, 7am now, which used to be totally unheard of.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. when I'm working (I'm on mat leave right now), I fall asleep early (ie 11 p.m.) too, because I'm so exhausted from getting up at 6:30 a.m. every day. It's awful. I miss those clubbing days!

      Delete
  7. Lol - I love this post. I think I have that night owl gene as well because I definitely don't like waking up early and prefer to be up all night! 6 more hours to my life though, so I am fine with that, wooo! haha. :) Great stories too, thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you enjoyed. If I had to get up at 3:00 a.m., I'd probably just stay up. It would be less painful and hey, it's the night owl way.

      Delete
  8. I'm a morning person. There, I said it. But I'm the black sheep of my family. When I get together with my sisters on our annual retreat, I'm always up by 8, even if we stayed up late, and they'll sleep past noon. Ah well, at least I have a laptop now!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Past noon - that is quite a difference. At least you get a bit of time to yourself?

      Delete
  9. Oops, almost forgot -- thanks for linking up with the TALU!

    ReplyDelete
  10. I just love reading your writing!
    I am fortunate to have an early-rising husband who generally lets me go back to sleep on the weekends. I'm certainly not a morning person, but I'm more of a "get as much sleep as possible" person and would prefer a solid 8-9 hours a night. Yes, parenthood has wrecked this for me. On the days when the good husband does not offer to let me sleep in, I feel ripped off and pissed. Happy TALU, friend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks! I'm a 9-hour sleeper who rarely gets more than 6 hours sleep. No wonder I'm cranky all the time.

      Delete
  11. I used to be a non-morning person UNTIL I had kids. I loved sleeping in every weekend. Could never get to my 8am classes on time, if at all. Always needed a nap in the afternoon, right when I had to get to Chemistry class. BORING! Now, I'm up before the sun most times. It's kind of nice. I'm learning to appreciate it. It's the only time I get any ALONE time. Maybe that's why I like it so much. :-) TALU

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I feel the same way about my alone time, except that I get it at 1 or 2AM instead. I don't think I'll ever be able to get up early unless I'm forced to.

      Delete

Lend me some sugar!