Family history research has temporarily come to a halt. In fact, nearly every non-essential activity in my life has come to a halt -- except the wondering, imagining, and musing about my ancestors and their lives. For a few weeks I am working at a full-time job which begins every morning at 8:00 a.m.
I've never been a morning person. My mom had the
hardest time waking me when I started school -- and I had a hard time
waking myself as I grew older. As a young child with a bedtime of 7:00 or 8:00, I would lie awake tossing and turning, finally falling asleep much later.
I attended college orientation
with my mom who, when it came time to complete a schedule request,
suggested that I take morning classes so I could have the afternoons
free. What was she thinking? What was I thinking? Maybe she thought it would help whip me into shape. Those were the days before electric alarm clocks with snooze buttons: I set three wind-up alarm clocks to go off at 10-minute intervals.
After my babies were born I was thrilled to be able to nestle them in bed while I slept a little longer in the mornings. Whether it's nature or nurture, neither is a morning person. Both had to alter that
tendency while in college and for jobs, but given the opportunity, both would go to bed late and get up late.
Is the concept (and/or the reality) of morning person/night person relatively recent? Did the advent of electricity and artificial light change the sleeping/waking habits of people? Or have there always been people who were early birds and night owls with preferred times to be awake and to sleep? I suppose it's possible that nearly everyone was a morning person 100 or 150 years ago when the time after sunset was usually dark (except for the use of expensive candles and oil lamps). Or perhaps a body eventually adjusts when the need arises?
If I had night owl ancestors, how would the night owl dairy farmer have managed a farm of cows that needed milked early every morning? Or managed the planting and harvesting, both jobs that require daylight? Did the night owls go through their days feeling tired and having headaches? How did my night-owl ancestors manage when they couldn't be night-owls?
In agrarian cultures like that of our ancestors a century ago, life happened during the day. I think that's the norm these days, too. The expectation seems to be that people get up early and begin work at 8:00 a.m., sometimes earlier. There's not much consideration for the person whose body tells her that sleep should begin at 1:00 or 2:00 a.m., and so we drag along.
If a body really does adjust its sleeping habits when the need arises, by the end of these two weeks maybe I will have become a morning person. That would be a surprise to everyone who knows me.
Are you a morning person or a night owl? Do you know if your ancestors tended toward one or the other?
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