Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why I've been pretending to be a night owl

I have always thought that I was a night owl.  I always stayed up late doing homework, I always worked the closing shift.  I stayed up late on the weekends with friends.  I stayed up late finishing projects that had to be done before the next day.  I hated waking up and getting out of bed. I would avoid early things at all costs.  I thought I did all of this because I was a night owl, but what if the opposite is true.  Consider this: Perhaps I was a night owl because I stayed up late all of those long nights.  What if I have simply been training myself to become a night owl.  What if my longing to become a morning person was really a fact that I lost somewhere along the way. 

I have recently been investigating the symptoms of both night owl and morning lark and it I think that it boils down to two things in deciding your classification:
1. You do your most productive work during preferred times (ie: night owl-at night, morning person-in the morning) when your brain is ‘awake’.
2. Your preferred time of day is calming to you.
If would respond to these as saying 1. My brain is most ‘awake’ probably between 8 and 10AM as well as right before I got to bed (11PM), when I can’t sleep because I have so many things to put on my list of things to do the next day.  I would also say that 2. the irregular early mornings I’ve had, were some of my favorite days.  I love sunrises and once in a while during the summer I would have to work the opening shift and be to work at 4:45AM, the ideal time to see the entire progression of a perfectly calming sunrise. 

If I were to objectively read those responses, I would say I’m a morning person.  Here are some other symptoms that prove that I was definitely not meant to be a night owl:

First and foremost, I am afraid of the dark.  The dark is scary, not calming.

I love sunrises, and the sun in general. 

I love breakfast.

I have always wanted to have my room on the East side of the house so that I can see the sun in the morning when I wake up.

I dislike sleep and feel like it is a waste of time.
And you know what, I’m quite sure that I’m not the only one fooled by high school homework or college roommate shenanigans. 

Some study has shown that only about 20% of the general population (source: see some obscure study done somewhere) are correctly classified into a morning or a night person grouping.  Some of these people truly do function best at 2AM.  The same pattern is seen in animals who hunt at night; their eyes were made to see better, their senses are heightened at night.  This makes sense to me; but what about those that don’t have a heightened sense at night or morning? What about those people who can’t get out of bed in the morning or who fall asleep watching movie at night? Maybe they are really three types of people: enter the ‘daytime people’.  What about the other 80% of the population who seems to fit somewhere in the middle? These people function best on a 9-5 schedule.  Maybe that’s why it’s so common. I think that society is forcing people to be classified as night owls or morning people when they aren’t really. 

In all of the research I did for this (re: Googled two things “how a night owl becomes a morning person” and “how a morning person becomes a night owl”)  I was surprised that there were infinitely less morning people trying to become night owls than night owls becoming morning people.  Makes me think that most people are really daytime people who think they are night owls and feel like they should be morning people.

So maybe I’m a daytime person.  But I think I was meant to be a morning person.