Is being a “morning person” really that great?

It’s around everywhere – apparently, “morning people” are more productive, get better university results, are healthier, are less depressed… the list goes on.

Sure, maybe this is true. But is going against your biology really going to give you all the benefits that “morning people” apparently experience?

I am attempting to ‘reset’ my sleeping habits back from being nocturnal, and after 3 weeks of actually being awake during normal daylight hours, I am not having much luck. Everything that follows is personal and anecdotal – this is what I’ve discovered, please don’t try and tell me that I am wrong and why. I already know that this isn’t how the research says this works.

I drink more coffee 

When I was going to bed at 4am and getting up at lunchtime (12-1ish), I was only drinking 1 cup of coffee a day. That 1 cup was drunk as soon as I got up, and then the rest of the day was cups of tea (green, black, white, herbal, you name it). Now I’m going to bed at 11 and getting up around 7-8am, and I’m consistently needing at least 3 cups of coffee a day to be able to maintain my concentration. I am not at all productive in the mornings. I can’t concentrate on my readings, I’ll read an entire paragraph without actually remembering what I’ve read. I take notes on my readings, but don’t actually remember reading any of it. I feel groggy, and the multiple cups of coffee are needed to get my brain going. I’ll have 1 at 8ish, 1 at around 10:30, and usually a third at about 1pm. I’ve made a point of not having any after 3pm, so it doesn’t interfere with my sleep, but sometimes I just can’t NOT have one.

I crash at 3pm and feel like I need a nap or a coffee

This is something I’ve always struggled with. I crash at around 3pm when I’m on a daylight schedule. And when I say “crash”, it isn’t just a lull – I’m truly fighting the desire to have a nap. I’ve even fallen asleep at my desk at around this time (AT WORK! as well as at home) and had to laugh it off as “I was up doing assignments for most of the night” – when I wasn’t. Because “I dunno, I just suddenly felt so tired that I pretty much passed out” is a little hard to explain to your boss (boss was totally understanding of how much time uni took though). I fight the urge to sleep when I’m at home, and it usually passes – but often I’m left feeling groggy. I wasn’t experiencing this at all when I was mostly nocturnal – the equivalent crash should have come at around 11pm, but it never did. I’d usually start feeling the need to sleep at around 4am, when I was heading to bed anyway.

I get more distracted

This could be just because there’s more I can do during the day – Hubby isn’t trying to sleep, so I can do noisy cleaning stuff. Shops are open, so I can go do food shopping/whatever. None of this stuff is possible at 11pm when Hubby is asleep and nothing is open. So I guess this is really just an avoidance strategy. But it doesn’t stop it being true!

My CFS symptoms are worse

The things mentioned above are general CFS symptoms – fatigue, grogginess, and difficulty concentrating. But other symptoms are worse too – joint and muscle aches, lack of coordination, difficulty in finding the words I want when I’m trying to talk (this doesn’t extend to writing, I have no problems finding the words when I’m writing), trouble remembering simple things (like my email address, or how to turn on the stove. NO SHIT). My anxiety is also worse.

I look at this and wonder what the deal is, exactly – why do my CFS symptoms get worse when I’m on a daylight schedule, even though I’m getting more sleep? God knows. At this point, I’m not sure whether I should continue keeping my sleep schedule as a day-time person, or whether I should just let my body revert to what it prefers.

There’s strong genetics in my family for being a night owl – my Mum isn’t a morning person, my Dad is even worse. Even my Nan isn’t a morning person (and you naturally become more ‘morning-oriented’ as you age). Grandma and Grandpa (Mum’s parents) tend to get up at a fairly ‘normal’ time (7ish), but that could just be a lifetime of Army training kicking in. Neither are much fun before they’ve had their morning caffeine (consumed in the form of very strong tea).

I’m not sure if there’s any point me continuing like this. I’m also wondering if it might be worth just pulling an all-nighter, running through to the next day and just going to bed at like 8pm to try and sort this out.

Why does life have to be designed for morning people? Ugh.

~K

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