in his deep, dark lair,
through the long, cold winter
sleeps a great brown bear.
Cuddled in a heap
with his eyes shut tight
he sleeps through the day.
He sleeps through the night.
The cold winds howl
And the night sounds growl,
from Bear Snores On!
written by Karma Wilson
illustrated by Jane Chapman
Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster, 2002
Once, okay more than once, when I was a teenager, I slept for 24 hours straight. My mom woke me throughout the day. I’d answer “okay,” and roll over and over and over. Maybe that’s not so unusual. Teenagers need 8-10 hours of sleep per night, but sometimes more (lots more) to maintain proper functioning.
My dad was a night owl. I was, too. We’d stay up late on the weekends (is 4 a. m. early or late?) watching silly, scary, or classic movies. Everything from Edward G. Robinson to Donald O’Connor was fair game.
Then it would really be morning, like when the sun comes up. I’d sleep till noon, or 1:00. Maybe 2 or sometimes even 3. Mom was exasperated. With Dad and with me. But when the next weekend rolled around, we’d stay up late again.
Even when I was pretty young, I liked to stay up late and get up late in the morning. Sometimes I’d have a sleepover at my grandparents’ house. My gram lived there too. When I woke up, I’d crawl in bed with her and sleep some more. She hardly ever got up before 10:00. She’d have orange juice and two pieces of buttered toast for breakfast then start her day.
When I was in school and when I went to work, I depended on my alarm clock to buzz me awake every day.
I don’t know why, or even when it happened, but I’ve become a morning person. I’m not that cheerful, although I am grateful to have another day and I don’t like to talk too much first thing, but I can.
I set up my coffee pot before I go to bed and hit the go button on the way to feeding the cats. But I don’t set an alarm (except for Tuesdays, when I want to make sure I have enough time to post this by 6:30—my self-imposed deadline). But I usually wake up before the alarm rings.
Ben Franklin told us that early to bed, early to rise makes a man (person) healthy, wealthy, and wise. Science names morning people “larks” and evening people “owls.” There is a real difference. A study was done recently that compared several factors in common with people on either end of the chronotype spectrum. Night owls had larger incomes and more access to cars than the larks. Their cognitive abilities were similar, though. The state of their health, too. So much for Ben’s idea.
A pair of epidemiologists at Southampton University in England named different traits than Franklin did. They studied several hundred teenagers and published their findings in 2011. Larks tend to be more persistent and cooperative than owls. They are also more agreeable, conscientious, and proactive than owls. They tend to procrastinate less, too.
Larks are happier, generally. Probably because their “best times” of the day are when most of the world expects them to be productive and alert.
But an article in Psychology Today mentions another important difference. Night owls are more creative and larks are more punctual. Are creativity and punctuality really opposites? Maybe night owls disregard rules more than larks. Like taking their time and out-of-box thinking. Maybe larks feel more comfortable doing what is expected of them. Like being on time and coloring within the lines?
And, really, since most of us fall toward the middle of the chronotype spectrum, does any of this matter? Maybe only if we need to function at a time we are *not* at our best.
So, is 4:00 a.m. early or late? I guess, it depends!
-—stay curious! (and alert)