Nocturnal Admission

I am a nocturnal woman in an early bird world. Some would call me a "night owl."

I hear friends crow about how they rise at the crack of dawn, before anyone else is awake to go for a run, do a few loads of laundry and enjoy their cup of coffee before their day is filled with the demands of their husbands and children. They are so proud of themselves!!! Being an early bird is so admirable!! I discovered today that these bright eyed and bushy-tailed folks are called "larks." If you were blessed with the "lark" gene, you are a lucky person indeed.

I, on the other hand, am not so blessed. Being a night owl housewife is just plain shameful. (Unless of course, you're nursing a baby, or working the night shift at the emergency room.) I would love to go for a run, drink a cup of coffee and vacuum the house, at 1:30 am. The only problem is, these are all activities which are stimulants, which would result in my staying up ALL NIGHT, which would be fine with me, if I could sleep until 11.

If you want to have a good old time with me, come on over to my house at around 10 pm. I am a bundle of laughs at 10 pm. I am not, however, pleasant to be around at 6 am. (The only exception to that is when I'm curled up under my comforter snoring. And YES, I do snore.)

My energy level hits its stride around 4 pm. At 11 pm I am still rarin' to go. Tonight at 12:20 am I sat in my closet organizing sweaters, quietly, so as not to wake my slumbering husband. I felt ashamed. I should be sleeping, like all the other respectable citizens in this town. What's even more shameful is getting snagged in my pajamas at 10 am by some go-getter neighbor who has been up for 5 hours before I even open my eyes. Get off your high horse you annoying lark!!!!

I've been like this since I was a kid. When I was as young as 7, I would sneak a flashlight into my room and read until way after midnight. Sometimes I would even sneak and turn on records quietly in my room. The mornings were a nightmare. "Just five more minutes Mom, I'm sooo tired!!!"

According to my research, our internal body clocks (or circadian) sleep-wake cycle, which regulates hormone levels, body temperature, blood pressure, alertness and performance ability is genetic. My poor children have inherited my night owl gene. If we had it our way we'd all stay up until midnight, EVERY night. It is my job to fight our natural body clocks and function in our 9 to 5 society. Some school mornings, it gets just plain ugly around here.

Why can't my body clock work in a more socially acceptable way? Believe me, I've tried it, on myself and my kids.

I cruised the internet and came up with some pretty obvious tips to change my owl-like ways:

1. Set your wake-up time -- and then stick to it like glue. Ideally you should get up at the same time every morning, including -- gasp! -- those precious weekends. If you sleep more than 90 minutes later on a Saturday or Sunday, you will affect your body clock, readjusting it to the later wake-up time just as you have to get up early again Monday morning.

2. Seek light. Immediately upon awakening, expose yourself to bright light for at least 20 minutes, either by walking or exercising outside or using a special light box or portable light visor around the house, with approximately 10,000 lux of light.

3. Try melatonin. It's important to discuss this first with you doctor, but for many people, taking this over-the-counter supplement -- a synthetic version of the natural hormone -- about six hours before you want to go to sleep can help regulate your body clock.

4. Put yourself in a position where you can sleep. Avoid eating, alcohol, caffeine and exercise, which rev up the body, for at least a few hours before bedtime, and then turn off the TV, power down the Internet and get off the phone. Instead, turn to your MP3 player for some mellow music or a "boring" book on tape. That way you'll evade additional light exposure and be able to start winding down. "If you keep moving, keep doing things, you're going to override any sleep signals you want to be reinforcing,"

As you can see, there is no hope for me, except to change my nature. If you were born a "lark." God bless, you can just go with the lord gave you and the world will applaud your vim and vigor.

I, on the other hand, will have to fight all my natural tendencies in order to fit in with society.

It's not fair I tell you!!!

I think I'm going to start a revolution. This country is all about equal opportunity for all people. Am I right here?? I think we should have special programs in our schools for "night owl" children. Perhaps we can hire some special "night owl" teachers to start the school day at 11 am.

I'm tired of being discriminated against! Why should I have to fight the way I was born just because society tells me I have to get up at 7!!!???

Are you with me here? What do you think? If you're a night owl, do you feel sick and tired of trying to fit into society's schedule?

I think President Obama should take some of that stimulus money he has and implement some programs designed to help "night owls"function better in society.

I'm going to start my own group, and I'm calling it the NAANO. The National Association for the Advancement of Night Owls.

Say it loud and say it proud. "NAANO!!"

A representative from my organization might be calling you or come knocking on your door to ask for your support. When they do, please keep an open mind. Try not to see night owls as lazy, or strange. Remember, we were born this way, and we just want to be accepted.

Okay, I'm actually tired now.

Good night.

Please don't call my house before 9 am.

And please don't judge me.

Thank you for your support on behalf of the NAANO.