Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Night versus day

Thanks to both jet lag and horrendous hacking, we've both been getting up earlier. We've been going to bed earlier also, which is rare for me. David wants to keep this early-early riser trend going, especially since we change the clocks next week. Me? I don't know how realistic that is, but I'll give it a shot.

I seem to do fine on the days when I have to get up early to teach: in New York I get up extra early in order to beat rush hour, and have time to go have breakfast before class at nine; when I was coming directly from Baltimore I was getting up at 4:45 to catch a train an hour later. That's early. Come on. I get points for that.

But other days, left to my own devices, I will sleep the morning away. I need my eight-and-a-half-to-nine hours. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I'm not getting up yet.

I was heartened to see an article in the NY Times a few days ago questioning the "I get up at 4 a.m." myth that many go-get-em CEO types like to propagate about themselves. Apparently in a study, when motion-sensing bracelets were attached to these Type A's, at 4 a.m. they were blissfully still - same thing at 5 a.m. So there.

Cynthia Ozick, who proudly proclaimed that she awakes at noon, talks about the shame of being a late riser - people calling in the early afternoon with accusing voices: "Did I wake you?" A guy who I went on a few dates with said to me once, eagerly, "So I'll call you tomorrow morning, early, first thing."

"Uh ... that's never a good idea."

During the time when I was free-lancing and working a lot of second-shifts doing desktop publishing (in my post-corporate-bot life), my work schedule and body schedule finally were in sync. And in New York I could do my shopping right after work - at midnight! No lines! I was right in tune with everything - no grogginess in the morning, no wishing I could crawl under my desk for a nap - the sleep deprivation of my entire life was being erased.

So then I thought, I'll go for the big money and work third shift.

Third shift was a tough haul; you really have to commit to it. I tried it, and could never adjust. My body never knew the difference between one day and the next; from Tuesday through Saturday felt like one ... long ... day ... that never ended. I actually started to hallucinate the teeny-tiniest bit toward the end there. I was sleeping, but my brain never seemed to be getting any rest.

I suppose I could have stuck it out and reversed my body clock: my sister actually became nocturnal one summer (which is a nice thing to be in Arizona when it's one billion degrees during the day.) We have the genes for it: my mother's mother was the ├╝ber-night owl. She and I would stay up long into the night during those Florida summers. Even after I would fall asleep by two (two? child's play now), she would sit up until the sun rose. Then it was off to bed until the early afternoon.

The article said we should each embrace our lark-ness or owl-ness; after all, the tribes always needed someone watching alertly at all hours. It even said that early and late risers gravitate toward different professions: yes, the late-risers flock toward the arts. Big surprise there.

Still, it's nice to imagine that I could be one of those people bounding out of bed every day at 5:30. On the days when I do - and when I actually can maintain consciousness enough to string thoughts together - it's a great feeling having accomplished a lot before ten a.m.

But I don't know ... I feel the lure of the midnight hours very strongly. I appreciate the post-midnight stillness, if I'm writing words or music and it's all flowing freely and smoothly. I love waking up the next day, looking at the song that's been finished the night before, knowing I was in the grip of the muse, wondering how it all happened.

You can't punch a clock for that.


Blogger Sherry said...

See, it's alright when you stay up late as well as waking up late. I am such a spaz that I'm in bed by 11 most nights. Midnight is a late night for me. And I like sleeping lots so I'd still be in bed at 10am if Dan hadn't dragged me out like he normally does!

11:50 PM  
Blogger David said...

It's just as nice in the evening looking at the creativity you have displayed all day.

5:17 AM  

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