Morning people are not better than night people, damn it

December 16th, 2004 | Posted by administratrix in Soapbox

Morning people are the dominant bio-type, and they set the attitudinal tone of the entire culture. They’ve decided that morning is the best time of the day, and that people who are not naturally bright-eyed and bushy-tailed at the very ass crack of dawn are in some way lazy and unfocussed.

Well, screw that.

Morning is not the best time of day. It’s a fine time of day of course, but it isn’t inherently better than any other time. Getting up early does not mean you’re more productive or a better member of society. Being on time during the pre-noon hours doesn’t mean you care more or that you’re a better person.

As a night person, I’ve been chronically late to morning events my entire life. I’ve been told my tardiness proves my lack of commitment or concern about jobs, classes, and friends. It’s been condescendingly explained to me that if I just “made an effort” to go to bed on time I’d be on the “right” schedule and would find myself reaping the benefits of a morning person lifestyle.

Bah fucking humbug.

As a night person, I wake up every single morning of my life groggy and soft-headed. I do not find every morning fantastically beautiful – many of them are gray and cold and not at all inspiring. I do not feel vibrant and creative and fully engaged until after 9:30 PM. Ever. I do not get my best work done while the sun is up. Ever.

I do not feel better when I’m on the morning peoples’ schedule. All my life I’ve heard that it’s simply an issue of self-discipline, that if I just “got myself on a proper schedule,” I’d feel as sprightly as morning folk do.

In point of fact, I’ve felt guilty and flawed all of my life for not finding the strength to properly “apply myself” to being one of those happy, well-adjusted morning people.

Now, at 36, I’ve spent most of my life trying (and failing) to be a morning person, and having spent months and years on a “proper morning people schedule,” these are my findings:

The only good feelings I get out of artificially forcing my body onto a morning person’s schedule is a reduced amount of guilt for being what I am, which is simply a night person. When I’m on a morning schedule, I am not happier, I don’t notice that I’ve slept better, I am not more productive, and I’m definitely not more creative.

Here are the morning people lies I’ve been force fed my entire life:

1. You just need to get on a proper sleep schedule.

Wrong. While I’m capable of going to bed at 9:30 and getting up by 6:00, I dislike it and it’s uncomfortable for me.

2. Just give it some time and you’ll discover the untold benefits of being a morning person! It’s so much better than your lazy night owl lifestyle!

Wrong. I once spent two years on (my ex-husband) Brett’s schedule, and other than feeling less guilty I did not experience any particular benefits. All I did was sleep through my most exhilarating and productive hours every day.

3. You’ll get more done on a proper schedule.

Wrong. The fact that I’m awake for six hours before noon doesn’t mean I’m a shining example of robust activity. My morning hours are groggy, no matter what. I actually get more done more easily on my own night person schedule. It doesn’t matter if a thing gets done at 9:30 AM or 9:30 PM as long as it gets done.

4. Your tardiness reflects your attitude. You obviously don’t care enough to be on time.

Wrong. I do care. But since you morning people are dominant, you schedule shit at the wrong time. Ask me to show up at nine in the evening and I’d be the leader of the pack. I bowled a 9:30 league last year and in eight months I was only late twice, and once was because I’d taken a nap from having gotten up so damned early that morning.

5. There’s no such thing as a night person. You’re just lazy.

Wrong. There are tons of us night people, but because you morning folk have labeled our biorhythms as wrong and inferior, there’s not much stuff to do when we’re at our peak. So we do what there is to do: go to bars and clubs and coffee shops. (All “bad” activities to many of you stuck-up morning folk, mainly because you reject what you’re not awake for as being useless to you.)

6. Everyone knows the morning people schedule is healthier for you. Even Ayurved says so.

It’s healthier for morning people, not for me. And as for the folks I know who live an Ayurvedic schedule, well, I’ve certainly got my problems… but so do they. They are not, as a group, more shining examples of robust health than I am on my natural schedule.

7. You’re just not applying yourself!

My (ex-) husband is a genuine, dyed-in-the-wool morning person. He falls asleep early and wakes up truly happy and energized. I lived with him for seven years, and I’ve spent long, long, loooong stretches of time on his schedule. It’s not an issue of “applying” myself, it’s an issue of genuine body rhythms.

No one should be expected to sleep through their creative hours day after day, month after month, year after year! Whenever I go off Brett’s schedule and creep toward my own, I begin to experience those late evening hours of clarity, creativity, and sparkle, and it makes me feel invigorated. I never, ever feel that way before noon, no matter how much coffee I drink. I am simply not a morning person. The assumption, that the morning person lifestyle is better, healthier, and more correct, is simply a wrong one, and I refuse to feel guilty and inferior any more.

The morning people vs. night people schism is real, and the world at large is set up by and for morning people. Morning people look down on people who are not like them, and demand we accept their natural rhythms as superior and right. They have most of us brainwashed into thinking that they are right, and that we do “just need to apply ourselves,” and that we are happier on their schedules.

The saddest part is that we even manage to dupe ourselves into agreeing with them! But I’m here to say that we don’t feel better, we just feel less guilty and lazy. I myself have counciled other night people to patience and self-discipline in the quest for happiness on the morning people’s schedule, and in turn been councilled the same by other members of my group. THAT’S how condescending and pervasive the morning people ethic is.

Night people, throw off the yoke! Quit your day job and start working swing! Laugh at your morning person partner when s/he says you’re clearly flawed not to adore morning simply because that’s when s/he feels best! CLAIM YOUR NIGHT PERSON RHYTHMS, AND BE HAPPY ABOUT IT. Morning people are not better than we, and the next one who denies me my right to feel best after s/he’s in bed can Kiss. My. Ass.

Update 2007: When I’m not on a morning person’s schedule, I don’t drink coffee. I don’t need coffee when I work swing shift. SO THERE. *pbbbbth*
Update 2008: Edited for content.
Update 2011: Night owls may want to dim their lights

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8 Responses

  • 80 says:

    I used to feel exactly the same way, but now I’ve switched. I go to bed fairly early (midnight) and get up fairly early (7:30am) and it’s only taken my body 34 years to get used to it! I’m usually up by 9am on the weekends, which used to be a sure sign of insanity to me. Adam is right up your alley, he’d stay up all night and sleep all day everyday if he could get away with it.

  • MrsS says:

    LOL!! My best hours are from 2-4 PM; that’s it! That’s all there is. I go to bed early because I’m exhausted from getting up 6 and I would love to sleep in til noon. That would be an ideal scenario for me; sleep 18 hours, bless the world for 6. The rest of the time I’m a sleep deprived, foggy headed, can’t remember my own f’ing name mess! LOL

  • The Count says:

    I luv the original posting. I’m an entrepreneur for 20+ years and I’ve make a good living, have a great family, raised a couple of kids and I enjoy life. I am an unabashed second generation night person. My father was a night club owner and professional bowler. I typically sleep from 2:30am to 9:30am. I do my best work, as a CPA and Microsoft Certified Partner that develops custom solutions for clients, from 10:00pm to 2:00am.

    Now here’s a jab at the so-called morning folks: When I need to wake up at 6:00am or 5:00am or 4:00am to attend some dumb-ass 6:30 am meeting, I can do that quite easily because, overall, I get enough rest by following my natural body clock most of my life, so when these unusual circumstances arise, I am bright-eyed and alert, to such an extent that people assume that I am a … morning person. So I sit at the conference table with these morning people as they yawn, rub their eyes and gulp down half-gallon jugs of caffeine. I don’t drink coffee. I drink water before 7:00pm and red wine after 7:00pm.

    But I did drink lots of coffee at one time in my life: while I attended college, and while I was employed in corporate – 8 to 5 good morning – America. I hated the bitter after taste, but I needed the jolt.

  • Me says:

    Risers Rule, owls drool…

    It’s like this with my line of work (Information Technology: Systems)
    When the shit hit’s the fan, it’s in the AM about 80% of the time. (heck, since it’s been at least 12 hours since someone?s been in the office, any one of a million viruses, hackers, network or mechanical failures could happen…not to mention half the office forgetting their network password after a 3-day weekend)

    I’m knee deep in shit HOURS before my co-irkers drag their asses in at 9:00, 10:00 or 11:00. Since night owls are mouth-breathing, eye-twitchers with the reflexes of a sloth in the AM, it’s pretty much hopeless to transfer any crucial issues to them…You see, the slow motion feeling that you night owls feel in the morning isn’t “just a feeling” it is real… “Wwwwwhhhaaaaatttttt? Hhhhuuuuhhhhh? Is it busssyyyy?”

    Fuck you. Fuck you. And fsck you.
    Never fscking mind, I’ll do it myself.

    “RELAX!” say the night owls, like they ever experience multiple priorities at work.

    Do what you do best, night owls; make monkey faces and stare at your PC monitor till noon and let the risers stamp out the fires. Oh, sure you’ll hang out at work till 6:00, 7:00, 9:00 pm at night, like anything of consequence happens after noon.

    BTW, I use to do my best coding at 3:00am, too. It’s just that that kind of work goes away after you’ve trained your new associates in Bangalore.. (good thing I know Perl and this network crap, I guess)

    Damn, I’m eating lunch at 10:30 am with all the corporate lawyers now! What does it all mean?

    Oh, well, just you guys keep drawing fire during lay-offs. That’s one thing your good for

  • Lynne says:

    I was never a morning person, until the ripe old age of 26 when I had my first baby. Until that point I had worked 3-11p.m. then went out after work!! Kids changed everything! My kids are adults now, but I always jokingly say I’ve never gotten that lost sleep back- and never will, since now I rise @ 4:45 a.m. & go to bed by 11 p.m. I am married to a night owl though, and this is a constant area of friction for us. I’m ready to go at 7 a.m. on wkends & he rolls out of bed around noon!! He gets going about the time I fall asleep! I have one son that’s a night owl, always has been, and he works night shift & doesn’t have to adjust to the morning people’s schedules– although it drives the rest of us crazy when he can’t do things like meet at noon for Thanksgiving dinner! But, to each his own I say!

  • Mush says:

    I think “true” morning people go to bed before *way* midnight every night. My own darling husband goes to sleep at dark. In the summer, he’s up ’til nine or so. In the winter, he goes to sleep right after dinner!

  • Patricia Jensen says:

    I’m a 71 year old female and have been a night owl most of my life. I wish I could wake up fresh but as you said, mornings make me feel blah and overcast skies make me depressed. I like getting up at 9 AM and staying up to 2 AM.
    Dam it! I worked for 37 years as a RN and had to drag myself out of bed every work day morning and not ever feel as great as my early bird coworkers who got 8 hours sleep. Oh how I wish I was an early riser but I have long given up that notion and my husband no longer makes an issue out of it.
    It somehow still gives me a sense of failure but some of my best work and ideas come after 12 PM until later in the day. I am not a lazy person but my clock is just not set like the rest of people. I even light walking later in the evening . I love the night and the stillness when I am alone and it started when I was in high school.
    I have given up the notion that I will ever be a early riser or like the morning that well.

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