I hate morning people! Oh, you know who you are. You’re the ones who wake up happy with a smile on your face after achieving a restful, restorative sleep, never waking even once to pee. You’re the ones who can pop out of bed at 5:00 am and rush off to the gym, exercise, shower, change, grab some breakfast and be at your desk by 8:00 am talking to your counterparts overseas. Or, maybe you stay home, make some coffee, and report to your computer to continue writing the great American novel before you’re disturbed when the slackers decide it’s time to get out of bed.
All my life I have struggled with morning. Even as a teen, when a sound sleep was a nightly occurrence instead of an occasional blessing, morning came as a shock. My own mother, bless her heart, refused to come near me. To wake me for school she would shout out from the kitchen, which was a considerable distance from my bedroom, so as not to have to deal with my grumpy demeanor.
As a single mom with AM responsibilities, I was on my own. Frankly, I don’t know how I did it. Two kids to get ready for school, lunches to pack, a dog to walk, and out the door by 8:15 to walk them to P.S. whatever, and get myself to my job. I’m sure my lack of enthusiasm for that particular time of day was instrumental in their GPA failing to get them admitted to Harvard. That, and feeding them Spaghetti-Os for dinner.
I read somewhere that morning people are referred to as larks and night people as owls. The reason for this should be obvious to any owl ever awakened by the cloying sounds of those pitifully cheerful early birds.
I used to be an owl. I relished the evenings after the kids went to sleep and the house grew quiet. This was “me” time before there was such a thing as me time. A glass of wine, a good book, and a comfortable chair was like being on vacation. Would you believe I once could stay awake for the entire “Tonight” show as well as “Saturday Night Live?”
Today I’m afraid that I’m no longer a night person. And I’m still no friend of the morning. I have a few good hours in the middle of the day, but there’s only so much productivity a person can cram into the space between 11:00 and 1:00!
As old as I am, is there still a chance I can learn to delight in the morning? My alarm clock has become a relic since I can’t seem to sleep past 7:30 anyway. And rarely must I rush off to anywhere. Even the dog likes to sleep in. So, as long as I’m awake, should I at least try to be happy? Can I influence my inherent circadian rhythm?
The answer is a resounding NO! An article I read recently says: “If you’re just not a morning person, science says you may never be. Morning people and night owls are born that way. It’s time to accept that. Research has been gaining insight on that question. It turns out our internal clocks are influenced by genes and are incredibly difficult to change. If you’re just not a morning person, it’s likely you’ll never be, at least until the effects of aging kick in.”
Well, the effects of aging have kicked in. I do wake up early on a daily basis, but science is reassuring me I don’t have to like it!
So, so much for smiley faces and cheerful chatter at 8:00 am. I shall continue to move through my morning routine in utter silence with the corners of my mouth turned downward. I will continue to grunt at my husband as he patters into the kitchen and buries his head behind the New York Times. After years of marriage, he has learned not to speak to me before I’ve had my second cup of coffee, and I am grateful that the New York Times has never turned into a tabloid.
And thanks to that article, I can apply my self-improvement energies elsewhere where they might have a better chance of succeeding. Like, for example, flossing.
Although I’ll never be one of those morning people, there is a compelling reason to greet the daylight with gratitude. It’s a new day, and guess what? I’m still here!
About the Author
Susan is the author of two award-winning collections of humorous personal essays: “How Old Am I in Dog Years?” and “How to Complain When There’s Nothing to Complain About.” Check out her Author Page HERE.