Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A.M. lunacy of the non-talk-radio kind

Why are self-professed "morning people" so terminally smug? This letter from today's "Dear Abby" encapsulates what a lot of us night owls are forced to deal with:

Dear Abby:

You know what? I think "Too Tired" needs to suck it up and do the job assigned to her. Most jobs are based on the premise that you wake up early, go to work and get home for dinner. In college you can schedule classes to start at 3 in the afternoon if you want, sleep in and enjoy your mornings.

It's time for "Too Tired" to learn that the majority of people go to work in the morning, and she should get used to it.

For all of their perkiness, morning types are some of the most conceited people on the planet. The fact that their internal clock jibes perfectly with the American rat race is, for some reason, a major source of pride for them. There’s nothing wrong with being a morning person, but it certainly doesn’t warrant the condescending attitude that many of the lifestyle’s biggest supporters display.

Don't get me wrong; I love the morning. Nothing is quite like the piercing orange glow of a clear sunrise. But that's exactly why I like the morning: because, for me, it's a time to chill and energize. It's downtime. All those childhood weekends spent late in bed, reading a book and waiting for the biscuits to rise, had a profound effect on me.

In sixth grade my favorite teacher was, as she put it constantly, the epitome of a morning person. I liked her a lot, but that was probably because I had her in the morning. Those who had her in the afternoon hated her: "God, she’s such a morning person!" It was probably no accident that their grades always seemed to be worse than mine. It definitely wasn’t because I had some hardcore work ethic at 10 a.m.

More recently, I had a friend jolt me awake at 9 a.m. on my cell phone, only a couple of hours after I had gone to bed. She just wanted to chat. After detecting my groggy voice, she said, "You're not awake?!! I've been up for hours, so I figured everyone else was too! Wow!" Damn Bush voters.

The problem with morning people is that they've never had to see things from the night shift, whereas night people have inevitably seen it both ways. Day care centers, schools, summer camps, churches, farms...all of these things start not too far from sunrise. Every person who has evolved into a nocturnal type has grown up in the daytime. We have a respect (and occasionally a twinge of envy) for those who do their best work early in the day. We understand that everyone is not like us. If we need to make an appointment, we are the ones who lose sleep. Our social lives suffer, too, because the average person gets tired of the party just as our energy kicks in. Still, we deal with it.

So why is it so hard for morning people to do the same thing?

I think it's time that night people got a break. The nine-to-five world would completely fall apart without us nocturnal folks! After all, who staffs the bars and trendy restaurants where you eat and drink away the remnants of your workday? Who minds the grocery stores where you inevitably wind up when you need a quick item at a late hour? Who keeps you entertained, whether live or on screen? Who keeps the streets safe as you while away the evening enjoying your various spoils? Who is on call in case a loved one or pet suddenly falls ill? Who stays up half the night so you can have a morning newspaper?

Night people, that's who!

We're not lazy. We don't have insomnia or sleep apnea. We aren't where we are because we couldn't hack it at a "real" job. We aren't (all) creepy loners with no hobbies.

I sleep seven or eight hours a night, and wake up five hours before I have to go to work. It's like having a weekend every day. By the time I go to work, I am mentally relaxed and physically fit (and, yes, I work 40 hours a week). It feels a lot better than all those years I spent jumping out of bed and throwing myself straight into the grind, wolfing down a breakfast bar and hoping I wouldn’t be late. Cock-a-doodle-doo!

On second thought, maybe the morning smugness is simply veiled jealousy of us superior, relaxed night people. Ha ha! Just kidding. I’m not like that. I say, wake whenever you feel ready for the world. No one should feel punished for that at any time of day or night.

Well, that's all for now. I think I'll call it a day.


Cajun Tiger said...

Definitely one topic I can totally agree with you on (well I better not speak too soon ;)! My ideal day would be waking up around 10ish and going to bed around 2ish. The early risers could never understand why I didn't start studying until midnight.

oyster said...

"The fact that their internal clock jibes perfectly with the American rat race is, for some reason, a major source of pride for them."

Amen, brudder!

But don't try to keep the morning folks up past bedtime! You get an avalanche of yawns and excuses about why they can't be sociable into the later hours.

Leigh C. said...

My mom: morning person.
My dad: night person.
Me: uber-night person.
My husband: non-sleeping person.

My husband just doesn't understand how people can "sleep so much", as he terms us 7-8 hour-a-night (or longer) sleepers. He's only needed 4-5 his whole life, even when he was a baby.

Forget morning and night people, go for those people who just don't NEED sleep. THEY are the ones who need to be Nytol-ed into submission.

Becky said...

For some strange reason, I think I know which teacher you're talking about... Would her last name begin with a Z by any chance? 'Cause if it does, I had her in the morning and am definitely glad I did.

Ian McGibboney said...

CT: we would have made great study mates. As long as the subject wasn't political science or something.

Oyster: that is exactly why I have no friends. I feel like a teenager in a world of parents.

Leigh: I'm always surprised at how non-understanding people are of others who don't have "normal" sleep cycles. Though I do agree that insomniacs are strange, even if I am nearly one myself.

Becky: You're exactly right. She was one of my favorite teachers ever, even if the class systematically hated me and I had to write a behavioral contract that one time I threw my pencil across the room. Maybe I was morning cranky even then...

Cajun Tiger said...

lol...very true.

Becky said...

I've had to become a morning person between classes and kids, but I used to be a lot like you, Ian. It's still hard for me to go to bed before midnight.

I try not to get grumpy with people who are night owls because of that. Not their fault I have to be a morning person.

And it's good to know I was right. She was my favorite teacher too, but the perkiness in the morning was just unreal.