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Journalist, Author, Columnist. My Twitter handle: @seemagoswami

Friday, February 10, 2023

Larking about

Is all very well; but don’t cry foul on the owls among us


Among all the tedious people in the world, the most tedious are the ones who keep banging on and on about the benefits of waking up at the crack of dawn to get an early start to the day. You know the ones I mean, don’t you? They are the ones who regale you with stories about how they wake up at 4 am, meditate and do yoga for an hour, then head out for a walk, and come back and hydrate with some warm water infused with lemon and honey. They are the ones telling you how much they enjoy the quiet of early mornings when the rest of the household is asleep, and that that is the time they get most of their work done. They are the ones droning on about how breakfast meetings are the best. And so on.


While I am very happy for these ‘Morning People’, I wish they could get their heads around the fact that some of us are owls to their larks, and are very happy with this state of affairs. We like staying up late, while the rest of the world has gone to sleep, and do our best work at the witching hour. We enjoy lolling in bed (especially in winter), rolling out of it just in time to make it to work. And we like exercising in the evening; it helps us destress after a hard day at the office.


But the evangelicalism of the ‘Morning People’ is such that they can’t really leave well alone. Instead, they will try and guilt you into becoming more like them. They will produce studies that say that people who exercise in the morning live longer. To which the only counter is to quote statistics that have it that most heart attacks occur in the early morning; and that, as a measure of abundant caution, it’s best to stay in bed at this time and not put undue strain on the old ticker. 


To be honest, it’s only now, well into middle age, that I have summoned up the courage to tell ‘Morning People’ to jog on when they offer me their sage advice. In my younger, more foolish days, I did try to become one of them, forcing myself out of bed at an unearthly hour to go for a jog around the block. Not only did that not leave me feeling refreshed, it left me wrecked for the rest of the day. It’s only when I realized that these early starts were actively stopping me from functioning on full capacity, did I make my peace with being a night owl, who needs to wake up late to make the most of the day (and night).  


The truth of the matter is that all of us have our own circadian rhythms, which, research indicates, are connected to our genes. Some of us are programmed to sleep early and wake up early. Others find it hard to wake up early and have much more energy later in the day. Body clocks shift during our lifetime as well. For instance, teenagers benefit from sleeping in late because our body clocks shift during adolescence.


So, it’s all very well to lark about if you want to; just don’t cry foul on us owls.

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