I am a Night Person. I was born that way. During the 1980s I read research presenting sufficient correlations to strongly suggest being a Night Person or Day Person was a matter of genetics. The research found that Night People take almost two hours to fully wake up, whereas Day People take about 20 minutes. It is the way our bodies are made, the speed with which they warm up (from sleeping temperature). This is not to discount the effects of environment — we can shape our habits to whatever is needed or demanded of us. However, we are hard-wired to be one or the other.
I was so happy when I read that research! For over 30 years I had been living with my mother and then a partner who were Day People. They were of the opinion that anyone who didn’t get up at 6 a.m. on their own and then charge into the day were lazy and lacking in moral fiber. (Well, no one actually said the words “moral fiber,” but it was certainly intimated. I do remember hearing “lazy.”) When I was nine or ten years old, I remember my mother waking me up at 7 a.m. on Christmas Day and asking if I was going to sleep all day. I wouldn’t dare have suggested that two more hours would be nice. In later years, I got a lot of grief for wanting to stay up until midnight reading a book.
Part of what bothers me is the almost fundamentalist conviction a lot of Day People have that they are right, and that there is something wrong with Night People. Have you noticed most of the world is set up to accommodate Day People? Appointments scheduled for 8 a.m., shops and offices that close at 5 p.m., school days that begin before 9 a.m., breakfast menus that are no longer available after 11 a.m. Heaven help you if you work nights and have to sleep during the day, because even with signs there are people knocking on the door, and calling you on the phone. (Hooray for answering machines and being able to turn off the phone!)
Let me say I love dawn. I will willingly say it is the most beautiful time of the day, and when school forced me to be up and driving at that hour, I loved watching the world wake up. Also, I get more yard work done on the days I get up at 9:30 am rather than 1 p.m. But saying it is more “natural” to get up with the sun and go to sleep when it sets, is like saying it is more “natural” to be heterosexual. There is plenty of homo/bisexuality in nature, and lots of animals who are night animals. For those who say we should take the “higher road” and over-come our natural instincts, I come back with the suggestion that maybe the world is in such a messed up state because we ignore nature. Perhaps people need to be aware of the conditions they need to best function, and as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else, function within those parameters.
Let’s call it a truce, okay? I’m not out to “convert” anyone, and you’ll notice I didn’t slam Day People for preferring to get up early and go to bed early. This world needs diversity if we are to survive; it would be boring if we were all the same. All I’m asking for is more acceptance of diversity . . . and a chance to sleep late. 🙂