I’m not a morning person. Trust me, I’ve tried. Except for a very few exceptions, waking up at a “decent” hour of the morning leaves me feeling exhausted. I’m most alert during the wee hours of the morning when I’m “supposed” to be sleeping. It takes me up to two hours to wake up in the morning, and even longer to fall asleep.

Insomnia has plagued me since I was a small child, getting me in trouble for being awake when I was supposed to be sleeping. As a teenager it became more pronounced. My parents, all for the natural methods of healing, had me try everything from melatonin and exercise to strictly timed sunlight therapy. None of it worked for long. A standard dose of melatonin worked for a few days; eventually even ten times the normal dosage wouldn’t affect me.

When I fly international I force myself to stay awake until a somewhat decent bedtime (allowing for upwards of twelve hours of sleep) to offset jet lag. It works, for a few days, then my body cycles back around to being a night owl again. Every so often I’ll stay awake for two to three days just to reset my body, but it is difficult to accomplish much of anything during these periods.

For me, the most frustrating and curious aspect is the exhaustion in the morning dragging me towards sleep, sometimes in spite of a full night’s sleep, followed by not only a complete lack of fatigue 18 hours later, but a certain energetic feeling that visits between 9pm and 2am. Sometimes this energy will keep me up well past any reasonable bedtime in spite of lights out and comfy pillows.

I have tried everything from meditation and counting sheep, to white noise and nature sounds; sleeping pills and herbal teas, to sunlight and exercise. None of it works in any kind of lasting way. Even now, writing this, I am feeling drained, tired enough to droop at the edges. The most frustrating part is knowing I won’t be able to fall asleep at a decent hour tonight, leaving me feeling exhausted again tomorrow, because around bedtime my energy level will spike.

I hate morning people. As someone who has a hard time keeping my eyes open and brain alert before 10am, having someone chipper trying to interact with me in a meaningful way is difficult. Even worse is when said morning person wakes me up… if you know a night owl, I guarantee the best present you can give them is letting them sleep til they wake up naturally. As someone who rarely gets to wake up naturally, there is nothing quite so luxurious as sleeping until you’re no longer tired.

Our society says morning people are “normal” and night owls have “problems” that need to be fixed. Why build away from the river and try to reroute it to match your plans? Simply build on the river banks. My body’s “normal” is merely different, not wrong.


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