I am “coming out of the closet” to reveal a much misunderstood genetic trait.
It’s time for all “night owls” to do the same. We live in a world where our biological clock is not in sync with the rest of society and, we need all the support we can get.
As far back as I can remember, I always wondered why I was different. Why I couldn’t go to sleep when the rest of the family did. Oh, I would go to bed but not to sleep. As a child, when the rest of the household was sound asleep, I was wide awake, basking in the stillness of the night. This was MY time, when no one could interrupt my thoughts and my mind could take flight into the dreams of the future.
The abruptness of reality returned all too soon as each of my three siblings took turns trying to wake me as they left for the school day. I would hear the first call, return to sleep and, only when I knew it was the last call would I get up. It’s amazing, how, in a state of semi-consciousness, I managed to get myself dressed and to school on time.
I have tried all kinds of well meaning advice from friends to change this nocturnal schedule. “Early to bed – Early to Rise” did not make me healthy, wealthy or wise. It made me tired!
Although many years have since passed when I had no choice but to do with less sleep (marriage, children and work), I am still on the same biological clock and, still out of sync with the rest of society. The big difference now is I don’t have to get up to take care of anyone. I can sleep as late as I want. Although my friends and family are accepting, I know they don’t fully understand.
Nothing can change my “inner clock”. It is set on “permanent” and does not have an alarm that goes off just because I have to get up early. It is part of my total makeup. I cannot change this genetic trait any more than a person could change brown eyes to blue by wishing it so.
There is a “medical” term for this. It is called “circadian rhythm ”. It explains this as an inability to fall asleep at a desired, “conventional” clock time and awaken at a “socially acceptable” morning time.
‘When allowed to choose their preferred sleep schedule”, people exhibit sleep of normal quality and duration for their age and maintain a stable but delayed “relationship of entertainment” to the 24 hour, sleep-wake patterns. The “circadian clock” is not in phase with, and cannot be “entrained” to, the 24 hour light-dark cycle.