Early birds, nights owls
My whole life, I have woken up when the sun comes in my window. My body seems to think that light coming in on my eyelids means it is time to awaken. However, I would not call myself an early bird because if the sun is not coming in my window, I do not wake up. For example, last Saturday, when I had worn a sleep mask over my eyes on Friday night. I woke up and it was nearly 10 a.m. – in other words, I had tricked my body. Well, my room faces East, and the light is coming in earlier and earlier now. I needed some sleep.
I also would not call myself an early bird because, well, I have to admit that I do not like mornings all that much. I have never been a person who leaps out of bed with a smile on my face and a song in my mouth. In fact, I usually lay in bed and turn on either the TV or radio, listen for up to a half hour, and then get myself out of bed. I like the things that go along with mornings – the stillness, the smell after an overnight rainstorm. But the time aspect…my circadian rhythm is not a big fan, sun or no sun.
Back in the late 90s, when I was working for a (well-known) airplane manufacturer, I would get up, get ready, drag myself into work and encounter a co-worker, who always had a big smile and said “GOOD MORNING!!” This man honestly liked life, and liked mornings. I, on the other hand, was living in a perpetual state of exhaustion, as I was working full-time and going to school (effectively) full-time. I was not able to return his greeting, and he thought I was upset, or always in a bad mood. I finally told him that I needed time to be able to wake up before I could speak with any enthusiasm. Though I do not think he understood it, he accepted it.
Does that make me a night owl? Perhaps. In general, I have an easier time staying up late than I do in waking up early, sun or no sun. When I worked in a position that had me getting off at nearly 2 a.m., I was okay driving home. I could function without feeling as if I was about to drop. I have actually stayed up all night more than once and been able to function the next day.
In the morning, I tend to work on auto pilot – I get up, wash my face, brush my teeth, make breakfast, get dressed, and leave. I do not leave a lot of time for other morning activities. I do not leave myself time to work out or shower – I would rather do those things in the evening, before I go to bed. That being said, I have had my days where I am so tired that I am asleep by 9 p.m.
So I ask – am I an early bird, a night owl, or neither? Is this another categorizing exercise where I fit into neither box?
This topic comes up because I seem to be working with morning people again – at least my counterpart seems to be a morning person. Every morning that I arrive to the library, I say my ‘good morning’ to people and my counterpart always asks how I am doing. The answer is always the same – fine. She once asked me why I say fine, and I told her I am not a morning person. This morning, she asked me how I am and I responded “as always in the morning”.
I don’t begrudge morning people their enthusiasm – I just wish they realized that I don’t share it. I like sunshine. I do not like sunshine in my eyes at 5 a.m. (which will happen come June). I take some time to effectively function in the morning.
So whether I am an early bird, a night owl, or something in between, I don’t really know. Perhaps I need to start following the advice of “fake it until you make it” or something like that – pretend I am awake and chipper, and it will come true?
Or perhaps I should embrace my slowness in the mornings – after all, sometimes I get creative inspiration during those times. Either way, my circadian rhythm is what it is – I just try not to mess with it too much.