10 Jul 2009
Night Owl

I’m an extreme night owl. The image illustrates what you get if you wake me up early in the morning (if I manage to get out of zombie mode). In other words, do not wake me up early, snarl. With no constraints on my time, my sleep cycle drifts toward waking up between 2 and 4pm, and going to bed between 8 and 10am. Whatever my real world schedule, I still feel “sharpest” between about 10pm and 4am.

Researchers at the University of Alberta measured the strength of nine morning and nine evening people. While the early risers tended to maintain a relatively constant level throughout the day, the late risers showed a peak in the evening.

That may be because evening people show increased motor cortex and spinal cord excitability in the evening, about 9 p.m., meaning they had maximal central nervous system drive at that time, Lagerquist said. —Elizabeth Landau, Study: Night owls may benefit from evening strength, CNN

However, the morning people’s cycles don’t peak at the same time, so they don’t reinforce each other.

According to the CNN article, Dr. Nancy Collop, Medical Director of the Johns Hopkins Sleep Disorders Center, says that night owls are often mislabeled as insomniacs, and that it is very difficult for them to become morning people.

I’ve been a night owl since I was a small child, or so I’ve been told. By school age, getting up at 6am for the school bus (we lived kinda far away) was horrible, as much for my parents as for me — something about screaming and yelling to get me awake. I only remember sitting in a stupor over toast and coffee, trying not to nose dive into my plate.

Later it was the startlement of eventually waking up in the floor where my (morning person) girlfriend had dragged me out of bed, trying to wake me up for work. Even dire threats of cosmetic (or worse) alterations to my person were ineffective.

For a brief period, in addition to a regular alarm clock, I resorted to putting an extremely loud alarm clock under a desk and piling stuff in front of it; the theory was that I might wake up before I dug through the furniture and turned it off in my sleep. Well, you know what they say about theory and practice.

I’ve mostly given up on alarm clocks; they just won’t consistently wake me. I try to take a short nap or two in the evening and then depend on having a short sleep cycle to wake up from a longer early morning sleep. I can alter my sleep patterns for a day or two, in special circumstances, but I pay for it. If I absolutely have to be up early for something, I just stay up for it.

Hmm, it’s only 1am right now, and I have stuff to do; see ya later.

h/t: Azadeh Ensha, Peak Performance Times for Morning People and Night Owls, Lifehacker
image: Mila Zinkova, Eagle Owl IMG 9203.JPG, Wikimedia Commons

Category: Daily-Grind
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