The Myth of the Morning Person

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“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

― Benjamin Franklin

I’ve never been a morning person, and I find many Manic Impressives share this trait. Though I work in a corporate world full of morning types, this is one area where I’ve always been out of step with the rest of the herd.

I’d often thought it was because I was born at 9:33 at night or that I spent my formative years as a musician. But now, thanks to this article on Huffington Post, I know it’s because I was born this way.

It’s in my genetic makeup.

Scoff all you want, but I’ve got science on my side. Many of us have circadian rhythms that just don’t follow the sun. It takes effort for us to get up early and join the others. Our natural rhythm is to be far more alert and productive as the day goes on. Our ideas and creativity kick in when most people are shutting it down.

For years we’ve been told this was a character flaw or immaturity. We MaEarly Birdnics have been pounded with that “Early to Bed, Early to Rise” crap, or worse, “The Early Bird Gets the Worm”.  Who the hell wants worms!? Have you actually tasted worm? Why would anyone get up early for that? Seriously, do you want to be a worm-eating weenie like this guy↑, or a  fear-inducing night flyer like this ↓bad-ass?

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Give me plump, juicy rodent over slimy worm anytime!

Now, thanks to HuffPost, we know better. Some of us, and maybe you too, are designed to be night people. And some of that stuff they shame us with is nonsense.  Dr. Michael J. Breus, PhD, Clinical Psychologist, and Diplomate of the American Board of Sleep Medicines found, and I quote,  “…people who stay up late are more productive than early risers, and have more stamina throughout the length of their days”. Oh yeah, and “…night owls display greater reasoning and analytical abilities than their earlier-to-bed counterparts.”

And another thing, “Stay-up-late types, according to research, achieve greater financial and professional success on average than those people with earlier bedtimes and wake times.” In your face, Early Birds, enjoy your damn worms!

I once had a 9-5 job where I was never late to work. I showed up ready to go and was alert and productive from the moment I settled in. No need for coffee or a morning  ritual, no need to catch up with news from the outside world before I got down to business. Because my shift started at 9 pm  and I worked ’til 5 am. After my short reverse commute I was ready for sleep and to do it all again.

Problem with the graveyard shift is that it’s lonely. For us extroverts it’s tough to be so far apart from everyone else. Aside from the social pressure, though, there are other downsides to night owlishness. Folks like us are more prone to health issues like depression, insomnia, and over-indulgence in food, tobacco and alcohol.

So we night-types need to be aware of the potential problems and build routines to compensate for them. Here are four things that have helped me deal with being a night owl in an early bird world:

  • Get Your Rest – know how much you need and force yourself to bed. Very few people function well without a good 8 hours of rack time. Naps are acceptable, but do what you need to do to avoid “Social Jet Lag”, the chronic condition of sleep deprivation.
  • Get Your Exercise – an hour of exercise is like getting an extra hour of sleep. Build it into your daily routine by walking or biking instead of driving everywhere. Join a gym, a league, a class, use a jump rope, kettle bells or a Thigh Master.  It doesn’t really matter how you do it. Just make exercise a priority.
  • Get Things Ready the Night Before – you’re no good in the morning so prep what you need before you go to bed. Get your clothes ready, your devices charged, your gear packed, and by all means, ready the espresso machine!
  • Get Them Off Your Back – let your Impressive side shine at work so they realize your value. You have the natural advantage of Stamina and Reasoning over the clock-bound. Leverage it!

Conforming to the herd is what most of us Manics feel forced to do to make a living. But that doesn’t have to be a permanent condition. When I stop working for The Man and start working for this man, my work hours will go back to what’s normal for my body.

But in the meantime I will struggle, just like you, to get up early and join the others…

One thought on “The Myth of the Morning Person”

  1. I am definitely am an early riser. The earlier the better. It’s definitely my most productive time and gives me an exalted feeling of having really lived and experienced a lot before many of you rodent eating night birds. However my wife is a night bird and it’s harder to get to bed early when she’s up past midnight as is often the case. I need 7 hours sleep. Occasionally 8 if I’m way deprived but past 7 hours on most occasions ends up being counter productive(meaning my back starts prompting me to get my worm eating self out of bed). We are all unique and one person likes worms and some else likes rodents.

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