Monday, 29 August 2011

Good morning!

I am, without a doubt, a morning person. I have always been a morning person, with the exception of a short period where I worked as a bartender and my natural sleep schedule was altered so that I could work between the hours of Happy Hour and Gutter Puke.
Otherwise, I have been a devotee to the day, immune to the siren song of the night time party bar action rock out. I’ve never been much in to parties, unless there was a lot of soda pop and some kind of cake involved. And I didn’t have to talk to people I don’t know. People who might not have cake.
The best parties I’ve ever attended have been the ones I’ve hosted because I can always busy myself with slicing cheese and cutting cake if I can’t focus on any of the myriad conversations around me (see previous blog about my difficulty locking in on a tete-a-tete). Plus, my parties always end by 10:30 pm. A half hour past my bed time.
So, I am early to bed, early to rise. There is research that shows that our bodies natural alarm clock is set in our genetic code (Brown, et al. 2008; Ramsey & Bass, 2009); being a morning person or a night owl is not a choice, but rather an imperative. Further, being an early riser is, apparently, the result of a genetic mutation (He, et al., 2009).
I have always suspected that I was a mutant. 
I am the only one in my immediate family who prefers sunrise to moon shine 

(No one in my family likes the one-word variety of moonshine- long line of abstimonious Methodist ministers. Then again, my mom has been known to drink up to two rum punches in an evening. Drunkard.). This is interesting because recent research suggested that people who are extreme night owls, but are forced to function outside their biologically coded best hours, are more inclined to smoking and drinking (Whitman, Paulus & Roenneberg, 2010 ) Maybe this is why there are no super cool day time dance clubs. And why my parents and brother had such huge match book collections and weird friends sleeping on the couch all the time.*
 My parents thought I was quite the little oddity, marching to the tune of my own circadian drummer. When I was not more than three, my mother would set out a bowl of Cheerios and a blanket before bed, so that when I woke up at the crack of crazy on Saturday mornings I could feed myself, keep warm and watch cartoons without waking up the others who invariably slept in until 11. 
I was not allowed to have milk (would have spilled it) or touch the thermometer (would have burned the house down) or turn the tv volume past whisper level (would have awoke the beasts).  I am sure that this instilled in me my love of peaceful mornings and carbs and excessive blanketing.
Ergo, I blame my Vector addiction, my constant state of being chilly and huge, gory feet on my mother. 
J’Accuse, Mickey. J’Accuse!
By the time you are 18 you have a pretty good idea whether you are a lark or an owl. But you might not, at that tender age, know what you want to do with your life. So here are a list of career options based on your chronotype. 
Morning person:
personal trainer
folk rocker
dental hygienist
Milk Maid
Police Detective, Comedic
Night Person:
art thief
international man of mystery
card dealer in Vegas
performance artist
Tavern Wench
rock star
security guard
Drag Queen
Funeral Parlour Director, weird type.
Scientist, Evil Type
Police Detective, Sexy, Hard-Boiled Type.
It used to be that conventional wisdom stated that those who rose with the dawn were more productive. This may or may not be true, depending on how you define “productive”. While we morning people might do better on some tests, we are invariably less cool, dress like dorks and tend toward silly things like community theatre and train spotting. I’m thinking the kind of people who listen to  Katrina and the Waves while speed walking.

Typical Early Riser and Typical Night Owl.

Larks might do better initially, but we tend to crash much faster than do our owly friends, who function better in the later hours when morning people are whining and scrounging for coffee. So I figure it all evens out in the end.
I do not do well in the evenings. I tend to start to fade at around 8:30. I get bleary eyed and cranky like a toddler if I am forced to stay up too much past my bed time. I haven’t seen Saturday Night Live in 15 years. Brian and I love when people invite us to things that don’t even start until 10pm. Gives us a good laugh. Then we go back to sipping our tea and making detailed lists about what we are going to do for the next 40 years.

On the rare occasions when I have to stay up late, I feel like I’m being subversive and part of some grand mysterious club that only university students and drug dealers are a part of. Maybe I’m a little bit cool. Maybe I’m going to party all night.
 I’m not fooling anyone, I’m sure, with my stifled yawns and squinty, pathetic attempts to follow conversations that AREN’T  about how we really should be leaving now, everyone is fully aware that I am a morning dork and while they are planning which after hours clubs to hit, I’m thinking about drinking my morning coffee after I clean up the raccoon assaulted organic waste bins.
Because this is the kind of thing morning people do. 
I have in my mind that Germans and Swedish people are all morning people. French and Spanish people are night owls. 
Nobody knows what time the Dutch get up. I’ve Googled it, and it’s a bit of a scholarly dead end. Maybe they just don’t go to bed.  Dutch non-sleeping zombies with their bikes and windmills and awesome cheeses. They can’t afford to sleep. Their words are so super long that they have to stay awake 3 extra hours a day just to say “Good morning” to each other.

Anyway, back to sleep cycles. 
Or not. I’m tired.
Brown, S., Kunz, A., Dumas, A., Westermark, P., Vanselow, K., Tilmann-Wahschaffe, A., Herzel, H. & Kramer, A. (2008). Molecular Insights into Human Daily Behavior, PNAS, 105 (5), 1602-1607.
He, Y., Jones, C., Fujiki, N., Xu, Y., Guo, B., Holder Jr., J., ROssner, M., Nishino, S., & Hui, Y. (2009). The Transcriptional Repressor DEC2 Regulates Sleep Length in Mammals, Science. 325 (5942), 866-870.
Ramsey, K. & Bass, J. (2009). Obeying the Clock Yields Benefits for Metabolism. PNAS, 106 (11), 4069-4070.
Wittmanm M., Paulus, M. & Roenneberg, T. (2010). Decreased Psychological Well-Being in Late “Chronotypes” Is Mediated by Smoking and Alcohol Consumption. Substance Use & Misuse, 45 (1-2), 15-30.
*Never happened.


  1. ...and I am a German woman who usually needs to be in bed by 9:30 pm, especially on weekends. For some reason, I say up later on work days. This is weird.

  2. Your references don't follow the most recent APA guidelines.


  3. C- I know. I've been out of school so long. I used to be such a perfectionist.
    Angela - you stay up later on weekdays because you have less time to do just as much stuff. And also because work makes us vampires. Also, yes, I am awesome, and thank you for pointing it out. SOmetimes people don't notice and just think I'm a regular middle aged woman with big feet and dog fur coating her backpack.

  4. The Dutch are really a mixed bag...That's why we can host so many of of us on such tiny piece of land!
    Personally, I'm a night owl...evil that is!
    I already knew ;-)

  5. But I'm a lark who wants to be an actor! OH GOD WHY!

  6. Doug, there is hope. You might not be a super famous actor because the only way to get famous is to spend a lot of time in night clubs (late at night) and getting in and out of limos making it clear you're not wearing any panties. Good luck to you, and please thank me in your Oscar speech.

    Marcel, if I could learn your crazy language, I'd live there in a second. Such a lovely country. Such beautifully coloured money.

  7. I used to feel so guilty lying in bed on those Saturday mornings, leaving my little girl baby to watch violent cartoons all alone. But I see you remember it fondly, so perhaps it was okay. It taught independence, resistance to cold weather, subsistence defenses with only cereal to keep you from starving. I don't feel quite so guilty now. Whew.

  8. How could you and your brother be so different: lark and owl. It's amazing, really. There are other differences: his love of camping when no one else in the family liked it. Your passion for study and school. His working night shift, your working on stage into the late, late evening. Oh, maybe that's the same, but so much by choice.
    Sorry about the Kerr feet.

  9. funny, i used to be a night owl and now i'm up with the chickens. is it possible that my genetic material has been re-coded? can you look that up for me, el?

    also, i think you may have been a dutch girl in a past life. we visited gesundtenvaltenbarencloggenshitten-or something like that together back on the "worms life" tour and you looked like every other tall, leggy blonde woman (except you didn't have a bicycle...).

    jules xo

  10. Ah Phoebe Cates. I have never, ever been able to listen to Moving in Stereo since without feeling somewhat aroused.