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on tricycles and mornings - helen-louise
baratron
baratron
on tricycles and mornings
I've known for years - nay, decades - that I am Not A Morning Person. I only realised how serious the issue was when I attempted to go back to full-time work. I am so very Not A Morning Person that it is impossible for me to maintain a "normal" sleep-wake cycle. This is a statement which no one else has the right to argue with, by the way. Believe me, I've tried absolutely-effing-every piece of advice from sleep specialists, several modern pharmaceuticals, a bunch of herbal stuff and home remedies, and it still doesn't work. The fact is, my natural sleep-wake cycle is for me to wake up around midmorning, and fall asleep around 3am. If I stay on this cycle, I can maintain it indefinitely. If I attempt to get up at a "normal" time, I still don't fall asleep any earlier. So if I try to get into work for 8.30am, I can manage that for less than a week before I collapse in a terrible heap of physical and mental exhaustion. No drug with a Z in the title has ever made me sleep. (When I was prescribed Zolpidem, I once, in desperation, looked online for the maximum safe dose. I proceeded to take 4 tablets, and was still utterly wide awake wondering why the hell I couldn't sleep 5 hours later.) The healthiest thing for me is to say "sod 'normal', I'll have to work for myself at the hours I choose". Just like my fat activist friends who believe it is safer and healthier for themselves to maintain an active body at a higher weight rather than going through a constant cycle of dieting followed by weight gain, I believe it's safer and healthier for me to have a regular sleep-wake cycle rather than a "normal" one.

So I was ridiculously amused when rowan_leigh found this link: The A-Team and the B-Team (warning, post contains artistic nudity). I agree with almost everything the author says, except that his B-ness is nowhere near as extreme as mine. (Falling asleep at 1am & waking at 9? Luxury!). The thing that I've noticed though, and have never actually documented, is how much I'm Not A Morning Person. I'm sure it's entirely normal to be brain-fogged and bleary for a while in the morning. But my Not A Morning Person-ness extends to far more than my brain.

This morning (yes, it was before 12 noon): I woke up. 45 minutes after waking up, I cycled to my first student of the day. Slowly, in 3rd gear.

After the lesson, an hour later: I cycled along a road with more bumps in it slowly, in 4th gear. Then up the Hill That Used To Defeat Me (copyright epi_lj) in 1st gear, puffing a little.

Came home, sat in front of the computer for a couple of hours before going back out to the shops to buy all the things I'd forgotten existed, because I'd been too sleepy earlier in the day to remember that I needed to eat more than one meal. Cycled along the road at high speed, in 4th gear. Considered switching up to 5th, but didn't as my tyres felt like they could do with some attention. Came back up the Hill That Used To Defeat Me in 2nd gear, easily, despite noticing the existence of photochemical pollution due to the sunny afternoon & its effect on my lungs.

It seems that as well as mental "not being awake yet", there's a physical factor too. Though I tend to get out of bed feeling rested, my body has no stamina when it's the morning for me. It aches and gets tired far more quickly. By my mid-afternoon, this has eased, and I have more strength with which to turn the pedals. Also, by being more awake, I have the confidence to ride more quickly, knowing that I'm in full control of the tricycle, and that I need only a fingertip touch to stop or redirect the trike if some obstacle occurs. By the evening, I'm properly awake, and I can enjoy long periods of exercise - an hour or two hours. Or I can start creative work in earnest, knowing I'll have several hours of my brain working at its peak capacity before bed. My most awake hour is 10pm, and I try to schedule serious brain-work for then.

The realisation that it's a whole-body thing goes some way towards explaining why I'm so impatient & easily annoyed by those freaky mutants who leap out of bed with the most energy they'll ever have in the day.

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Comments
From: marnanel Date: 7th September 2007 00:14 (UTC) (Link)
It sucks. I'm resigned for now to being a B-person living in an A-world, andI know I'll never get anything like as much done as I would have if I could set my own schedules.
nitoda From: nitoda Date: 7th September 2007 06:42 (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure it's entirely normal to be brain-fogged and bleary for a while in the morning. No, it's not. It may be normal for you and for some other people but it isn't normal for me. I own up to being one of those freaky mutants who leap out of bed with the most energy they'll ever have in the day

The downside for me is that I can't stay up late socialising as I get too tired to join in and eventually quite bloody-minded if not allowed to go to bed. There *are* exceptions, but these are rare indeed. BiCon is the kind of event that can lend me enough energy to stay up later than I would normally but it wouldn't last.

I've definitly learned that if I'm trying to achieve something after 9pm and I start to feel tired the best solution is to leave it, relax, go to bed and get up early in the morning to complete. I was in bed and asleep not long after nine pm one night this week and woke at 5:45 (only 15 minutes earlier than our alarm goes off anyway) wide awake and ready to do stuff.

I always log on and check email etc before going to work in the morning.

It's such a shame we're so incompatible! ::hugs::
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 8th September 2007 02:17 (UTC) (Link)
*grin* Whereas I've learned that, if something substantial absolutely needs to be done before 9:00 (or sometimes even 10:00), getting up early never works -- especially if I'm running out of time and staying up late anyway, the only way to actually get it done is to stay up as late as it takes.

The problem is that there's not really an option, when I'm too sleepy to get up and do useful work at 7:45am, to say, "Sod it, I'll stay up late last night and finish it."
nitoda From: nitoda Date: 8th September 2007 07:41 (UTC) (Link)
I hear you! Trust me though when I say I get bloody-minded, I really do and can snap dreadfully if "made" to stay up working past my bedtime. Marjorie can't understand this at all - she must be more like you I guess in that she often stays up very late. She seems capable of getting by on very little sleep during the week and catching up at weekends, which isn't so easy for me. I tend to wake up early most days anyway unless I'm really tired or under the weather.
It's a good thing there are people of both persuasions in the world, I guess, as it's such a 24/7 world these days. :-)
brooksmoses From: brooksmoses Date: 15th September 2007 23:16 (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I certainly have no problems trusting you on that -- all I have to do to imagine it is a simple mental reflection at midnight, and figure that your mornings are like my evenings and vice versa!

Definitely good that there are some of both of us.
baratron From: baratron Date: 8th September 2007 23:58 (UTC) (Link)
I'm sure it's entirely normal to be brain-fogged and bleary for a while in the morning.

No, it's not. It may be normal for you and for some other people but it isn't normal for me. I own up to being one of those freaky mutants who leap out of bed with the most energy they'll ever have in the day.


I wonder if there's a correlation between being an A- or B-type person and when you have most energy? I mean, I'm pretty sure that most people who naturally wake up early in the day also wake up with a huge amount of energy; whereas most people who naturally wake up late also wake up groggy. There must be people who naturally prefer to sleep later and then wake up with a huge amount of energy, but I don't know any of them :P

My suspicion is that most A-type people wake early with lots of energy, most B-type people wake late and are groggy & half-dead for hours, and most "normal" people (that 70% who prefer to wake up at an intermediate time) are sleepy for a while (say, half an hour to an hour) but are then fully awake.

I was in bed and asleep not long after nine pm one night this week and woke at 5:45 (only 15 minutes earlier than our alarm goes off anyway) wide awake and ready to do stuff.

*shudders* ;)

I'll admit to having been wide awake & ready to do stuff at 5.45am plenty of times in the past, but only from the other side.

It's such a shame we're so incompatible! ::hugs::

Well, we'll just have to conduct our friendship during the handful of hours in the middle of the day when we're both awake :D

Seriously, I could not have a "serious" relationship with an A-type person, and it would be difficult with a "normal". Let's imagine a typical weekend of cohabitation:
* A-type person bounces out of bed full of energy at 6am and is ready to start doing exciting house renovating by 7am. However, instead they get to twiddle their thumbs until...
* B-type person drags themselves out of bed at noon and staggers around uselessly for a couple of hours, mumbling stuff about "coffee" or "chocolate". A-type person attempts to give them a job to do, now they've finally emerged, but B-type person entirely lacks coordination or fine motor skills and is only able to hit their thumb with the hammer.
* A-type person is frustrated with B-type person for "wasting most of the day".
* B-type person is pissed off with A-type person for "being so chirpy in the morning, and making banging noises in the middle of the night".

It's just not going to make for a happy couple, is it?

Richard & I would theoretically like to go on holiday with our friends Tim & Peter, but Richard & I are both B to the bone, Tim is "normal" but tends to err to the A-side because of work, and Peter tends to bounce out of bed at 6am then take a cold shower. I suspect the only way it would work out happily would be if we go somewhere with the explicit goal for them to go off & do something in the morning while we're sleeping - or if we go somewhere so far from home that we all experience severe jetlag and get completely disrupted from our normal rhythms!
nitoda From: nitoda Date: 9th September 2007 07:54 (UTC) (Link)
Yup. These are the kind of things they should teach people to look for in relationships *before* getting to the wanting to live together stage, to my mind. Certainly on holiday I would tend to the wanting to go places and do stuff early, though there are times, on ski holidays for example, when Marjorie and I reverse roles a little and she wants to be on the slopes for the first lift of the day whereas I would prefer a lie-in but it's not to huge extremes and we've lived with our differences for 35 years, so we must have found ways of coping. :-) I don't think either of us is particularly extreme ... and we've been fortunate enough most of our living together to have plenty of space and therefore be able to work around each other's preferences. But we've rarely *gone to* bed together (for the purposes of sleep anyway!) The other difference that interests me is that she can nod off during the evening, wake up and be perfectly equable whereas I am immediately bloody-minded and impossible if I fall asleep at a normal time, then have to be woken up (after only a brief sleep) and moved elsewhere. I'm not hugely good at getting up in the middle of the night either - one year when we were at the airport at 3am I managed to fall off a kerb at the carpark and twist my ankle before we even got to check-in. Purely because I was half-asleep still. Tired and needing sleep to me is a disabling state; it doesn't seem to be that way for her and she finds it impossible to understand why (or even that) it is for me.
baratron From: baratron Date: 10th September 2007 17:55 (UTC) (Link)
Unfortunately, the recognition that functional adults have different sleep-wake patterns is in its infancy. Previously, it was recognised that hormonal disruption during puberty affected around 70% of teenagers at any given time, but it was thought that only "broken" adults maintained this into adulthood. I have an official diagnosis of Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome, which is useful for prodding people who say I'm just lazy. But ideally, it would be recognised as a difference - and indeed, an advantage, rather than a disability. Like so many other things in the social model of disability, it's only a disability because of modern society's expectations.

tirnoney has a theory that the different "types" developed when we were primitive hunter-gatherers. The majority of people would go to sleep when it got dark and wake again with the light. However, the prevalence of wild animals and other threats meant that there always needed to be someone to keep watch at night. We B-type people are the ones who would have stayed up until 3am to guard their loved ones in the darkness, and you A-type people are the ones who would have woken up at 3am to keep guarding them 'til dawn. The percentages that have just been discovered would fit with that fairly well: 10-15% A-type, 15-25% B-type and 60-75% "normal".

The numbers also mean that there are a considerable number of us who are disadvantaged by modern society's expectations. The reason that B-types are so... well, militant is because most people see us as lazy because our brains don't work in the morning. Whereas A-type people are seen as industrious and dedicated to their jobs because you get in early and are bright in the morning. In some ways, like with the evening socialising you mentioned, you're just as disadvantaged as us - but at least you're awake during the times when you're supposed to be at work!

I'm surprised how large the B-type percentage was, but then I'm always automatically suspicious of any geek or coder who doesn't prefer staying up until the wee small hours bathed in monitor light ;) I think the internet has made it much easier for B-types to "come out" and not have to fight their body clocks all the time. I know it's great that I can be online at almost any time of day and night and find someone to talk to, even if they live many timezones away from me! It's certainly great that we're able to carry on this conversation now without being constrained by our preferred sleep-wake cycles. Go technology! While we wait for society to catch up :)
lovingboth From: lovingboth Date: 7th September 2007 08:29 (UTC) (Link)
What happens when you go to, say, the US?
baratron From: baratron Date: 7th September 2007 15:09 (UTC) (Link)
Then it becomes interesting, because my natural body clock is shifted by about 4-5 hours from my usual timezone. On the East Coast, I suddenly become someone who goes to bed at midnight and wakes up at 9am. I'm still dead in the morning, though not for as long as at home. (This may be due to the excitement of being on holiday, however.) And the longer I spend on that timezone, the more likely I am to drift backwards - and find myself staying up until 1 or 2am, and not getting up until 10 or 11am. After 10 days, I'm back to being out of phase with the timezone I'm in - which makes coming home an absolute nightmare!
memevector From: memevector Date: 7th September 2007 09:44 (UTC) (Link)
The healthiest thing for me is to say "sod 'normal', I'll have to work
for myself at the hours I choose".


This sounds to me immensely wise. I.m.o. there's not enough of this kind of reasoning in the world!
From: skibbley Date: 7th September 2007 14:59 (UTC) (Link)
I saw some small people on speedy trikes in Battersea Park last weekend.

p.s.
12 - 14 October 2007
De Montfort University Campus Centre
Leicester, UK
Machinima (pronounced ma-shin-i-ma). Making movies with videogames, the word being an amalgamation of machine cinema....
http://www.dmu.ac.uk/machinima/

also on the same weekend and nearby:

Carnival of Souls – the UK's premier event for the Gothic and Fetish communities.
Next event – Sunday 14 October 2007.

http://www.carnivalofsouls.co.uk/
boxofdelights From: boxofdelights Date: 9th September 2007 03:58 (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for the pointer. Why *are* those fuckin' A people running the show?
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