August 14, 2019

"The Life of a Person Who Wakes Up Really, Really Early/'Extreme larks' get up naturally when some people have hardly gone to bed."

By Olga Khazan (in The Atlantic). My first post this morning was at 4:58 AM, so it's a good topic for me.
They are people who wake up early—naturally. Not just “early” in the sense of a perky-at-8-a.m. spouse. These are the people whose bodies rouse them at 5:30 a.m. or earlier—some even at hours others are just going to sleep....

[Louis J. Ptáček, a professor of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco School] says his study is unique because it shows that advanced sleep phase “isn’t rare, and it’s only a problem if the person finds it undesirable.”... Extreme larks... might even be healthier than people who are night owls: Late bedtimes are associated with some negative health consequences, such as Type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Also in their favor, larks are more likely to benefit from the societal impression that people who wake up early are go-getters and people who wake up late are lazy. That’s not actually true; plenty of night owls wake at noon and work until 2 a.m., right as larks are getting up and brewing coffee. Nevertheless, the stereotype persists.

78 comments:

Dave Begley said...

Trump is like Althouse that way. Natural early risers. Go getters. Making America great again.

Nancy said...

Yes! I sometimes get up just as my husband is going to bed! Gives us both lots of me-time.

Fernandistein said...

larks, night owls

There are two types of people in the world, those who divide the world into two types of people, and those who get up earlier than some other people.

Nonapod said...

I've noticed that people who start off as Night Owls can often become Larks as they get older.

Morning people can be annoying though. I don't like interacting with overly cheery people before my first cup of coffee.

John Lynch said...

I get up early and can't help it.

The dirty secret of this "lark" behavior is that it is a way to escape other people. You don't get up early every day unless you like being alone for several hours.

Many successful people do this as a way to get work done without interruptions.

Mike Sylwester said...

Ptáček means "little bird" (or "birdy") in Czech.

stlcdr said...

If you need/want to work outside in a hot climate, early morning is best. Get up early, read comics, blogs, a snack, then ready to work as the sun comes up.

Fernandistein said...

There are two other types of people in the world, those who divide the world into two types of people based on an uninteresting metric and then try to correlate that metric with a more interesting metric, and those who, like Hitler and Geoffrey James, sleep until noon.

Michael K said...

Surgeons tend to be larks as surgery starts early. We also are not infrequently up very late. You get used to interrupted sleep. My wife, who had been an ICU nurse, could not believe how many times I would be called at night and then go right back to sleep. I understand the Navy has a similar sleep pattern. Now that I have been retired for years, I can't go back to sleep right away, so it is a learned skill.

tim maguire said...

This morning I slept in until 5:30. Typically, I’m up before 4:30. I haven’t used an alarm clock in years.

But I hate it and wish I could sleep to a normal hour.

Dan from Madison said...

@John Lynch ftw:
"Many successful people do this as a way to get work done without interruptions."

After that first few hours, employees, customers, and all the rest tug at the shirt tail for the rest of the day.

mesquito said...

0330-0600 = Me Time

wendybar said...

I haven't slept past 5:30 am in years. I tend to wake up around 3 ish…..sometimes am able to doze again until 5:30, sometimes I just lay there until I hear the birds!!! It DOESN'T matter WHAT time I go to bed either! I'm envious of people who can sleep in til 7 or 8!!!

Leland said...

I do a lot of international business with Europe from the US. I don't care how much of a go-getter you think you are waking up at 9am; you have missed all be a couple of hours of the business day in Europe and therefore less productive.

But hey, maybe someone doing work in Asia can use you.

MadisonMan said...

I do like getting up early -- yesterday at 4:30, today a relatively late 5:20. The sad part is you realize how dark it is now compared to mid-June at those times.

lgv said...

I'm at the gym at 5am. I wake up naturally in time to do so. I see the same people almost every day. The Clan of the Larks.

Also, Prof. Althouse posted the concept and history of 2nd sleep, which sticks in my mind as I was a practitioner of such years ago. I would wake at around 1am, work for 2 hours, then go back to sleep for several more hours before going to work at 7am.

I still wake in the middle of the night, but now have techniques to get back to sleep in less than an hour.

iowan2 said...

Growing up in an agrarian culture is most likely the source of my sleep habits. We never had a bed time. Only knew for sure what time we would get out of bed. As kids we self regulated. In college I always took the earliest classes available. Unless there is something critical, I don't set an alarm. Now, in retirement, I wish I could sleep until 7, but my internal clock is set for 5 straight up. That's seven days a week, and vacations (vacations are my time, I don't spend it in bed!)When traveling, we are up and on the road early 5:30 - 6:00, go till 9 or so, grab a bite and then skip lunch. We have been together traveling now for more than 40 years, and my better half is still irked she only gets 2 meals a day.

But I'm no better than the night owls. It's not important what end of the day you are awake for, it matters what you do with that time.

glenn said...

5:30? AM? By 5:30AM I had showered, dressed, had breakfast, and read two newspapers. It was almost time for my nine minute morning commute to work. That’s what people in manufacturing did. Know what? I loved it.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I have always been a person who gets up early. Between 4:30 and 5. It doesn't matter how late I stay up. I still GET up. Although I usually go to bed, read something for awhile and am asleep by 9 or 9:30, so I do get plenty of solid sleep

Being in a relationship with someone who is the opposite is a really difficult thing. A night owl and late sleeper. My first (ex) husband couldn't understand why I wanted to go to sleep "so freaking early" and was offended that I didn't want to stay up until 12 or 1 or 2! am. He thought I was doing it on purpose and didn't want to spend time with him.

Well, actually is some respects that was true :-) BUT....I just followed my body clock demands. Besides I couldn't sleep in until 10 am. I had to work!

That alone time in the morning was sooooo peaceful. Everyone else was asleep and I could have a quiet cup of coffee, read a book, perhaps do some crafting quietly, make some breakfast and prepare lunches myself and school aged kids. Me time!

Now for the past 25 plus years, my husband and have the same bio clock rhythm and it is so wonderful. We are compatible in this (and many many other things) Go to bed at about the same time. We BOTH get up early, naturally, without alarm clocks. . Then we have the peaceful hours between 4 am and 7 am to have coffee, chat, wander on the internet, share jokes and stories. Get things done around the house, make plans and THEN off to our respective days.

bagoh20 said...

It's probably selected by evolution to some degree as populations with larks have members alert and on watch more hours a day, so a population with both kinds of people would have a survival advantage.

bagoh20 said...

It takes a village to protect your village from other villages.

mesquito said...

I was on a cruise with the family a few years ago. All the evening entertainment went on without me. But I got to hang out with the cleaning crews at 4 a.m.

bagoh20 said...

I've already done a couple hours of work before I leave for my job. This early morning time is when I clean the pool, feed various animals, water plants, fix sprinklers, catch the news, check email, etc. It's catch up time on the chores of life.

pacwest said...

Healthy wealthy and wise. ymmv.

rcocean said...

Lots of people are night owls when they are younger Cf: The proverbial "all-nighter" to finish off a term paper. But as you get older, your bedddie bye time gets earlier and earlier. My Mother is now getting up at 5 AM, when a teenager, you couldn't out of bed before 730.

rcocean said...

For an opposite view: See Berlin's "Oh, How i hate to get up in the morning"

traditionalguy said...

It’s peaceful and quiet at dawn, with the exception of a Dairy Farm.

mockturtle said...

I'm a 5-5:30 riser and go to bed about 10, read until about 11:00. Afternoons are my slowest time of day but I get an upsurge of energy in the early evening. My father was a very early riser but my mother liked to sleep in every chance she got, as did my brother and sister. Getting my sister up for school in the morning was always a challenge. One morning she actually nodded off in her cereal bowl.

rcocean said...

"We also are not infrequently up very late. You get used to interrupted sleep"

Had an Uncle who was a 20 year Navy Vet, and could sleep anytime anywhere. He could also work at the plant for 24 hours straight when he had to, fixing the old timey mainframe computers.

rcocean said...

My start time is now flexible, but for years I had to get up at X time, to get to work by the Required start time. Everyone once in a while I will still wake up at X Time (on the dot).

gilbar said...

i slept in today, until 4am; it was nearly getting light out

Michael K said...

Had an Uncle who was a 20 year Navy Vet, and could sleep anytime anywhere.

I used to nap between cases. An anesthesiologist friend called me the only Type B surgeon he ever met,

Nonapod said...

My father, who is 82, is usually fast asleep by 9pm and is usually awake by 5-5:30am. In fairness, he has to deal with a sweet old labrador who comically grumbles to be let out several times a night due to her incontinence. I had to look after the dog this past weekend while my father visited my uncle in Nantucket. I love that dog, but she sure made it hard for this confirmed night owl to get a decent night's sleep.

gilbar said...

Nonapod said...
I've noticed that people who start off as Night Owls can often become Larks as they get older


For more than a third of my life (22 years), i worked 2nd shift . I loved it; i'd try Every Day, to get up by the crack of Noon (4 hours before i'd go to work); and I'd be in bed before the sun rose.
Now; i wake up before the sun rises (about Exactly the time i used to go to bed)

Either way, it's nice to be able to start slow and quiet. Waking up @7am, and having to be at work @8am was, is, and will be; my definition of HELL

PB said...

I guess it all depends on when you go to sleep. I've little interest in what's on TV so I'm usually out by 930 and wide awake by 430. I enjoy the morning quiet to make coffee and read. No need to rush to get ready for the rest of the day. It helps that my commute to work is very short so those wasted hours are eliminated.

Greg Hlatky said...

I'm up at 5:00 AM every day to take care of the dogs. Sundays it's to go to Mass at 7:00, Saturdays to have a few hours for my own hobby before the roof falls in later.

tcrosse said...

This time of year in the Desert Southwest one rises with the chickens in order to take advantage of the pleasant temperatures before the sun gets too high in the sky. We meet plenty of our neighbors and 6:30ish out for a walk, particularly those with dogs.
This changes come October.

gilbar said...

here's a Wake Up Call!
The Headline (that you click on), said "Arctic could have NO Ice NEXT MONTH"
When clicked on, it took you to a page that headlined: "Arctic could have no ice in September"
When you read the article, it said:
A shocking new study says that sea ice in the Arctic could completely disappear through September each summer if average global temperatures increase by as little as 2 degrees Celsius!!!!!
Then, a paragraph late, it says:
"Most likely, September Arctic sea ice will effectively disappear at between approximately 2 and 2.5 [degrees] of global warming,"


So, 1st it's NO ICE, NEXT MONTH
Then it's in future Septembers IF temps increase by at little as 2 degrees
Then, FINALLY; it: effectively* disappear IF 2 AND A HALF degrees

effectively* means the same thing as Virtually**
Virtually** "appears to, but not in fact"

John Borell said...

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Michael K said...

We meet plenty of our neighbors and 6:30ish out for a walk, particularly those with dogs.

My basset hound sleeps until 8 or later. We walk after sundown.

Karen of Texas said...

I have a 16 year old cat. He has trained me to get up at 4:30am to feed him. He used to meow at me continually around that time every morning for months. If I fail to get up now, he let's me know by no later than 5. As long as I'm asleep by 10 the night before, I wake within minutes of that 4:30 time. It still amazes me that said cat has an internal clock that is that accurate.

Paddy O said...

"These are the people whose bodies rouse them at 5:30 a.m. or earlier"

5:30 is very, very early?

I woke up at 3:30 this morning ready for the day. Not entirely uncommon for me when I'm in the midst of a project or just have a lot on my plate. Probably introvert survival technique. That time of day is when there's really no possibility of interruptions.

stevew said...

I've always been an early riser, 4:30am in summer, 5 to 5:30am in the dark of winter. Rare is the day when I am awake past 10:30pm.

The stereotypes of early and late risers have not borne out in my experience. People are individuals, whose personality types and motivations do not correlate simply with their sleeping and waking habits.

Clyde said...

I get up on work days at 3 a.m. to go to work at 4:30 a.m. My body has gotten used to it, and I often wake up before the first alarm goes off (there are two). I go to bed around 8 p.m. on work nights. On my days off, I might "sleep in" until 5 a.m. or so if I stayed up late the night before. You make the adjustment if you have to.

DAN said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

Also, here in Vegas, early morning is the coolest part of the day, which in summer means 80s-90s, but 0-10 % humidity. Still, for some reason, I always end up working outside most of the time in midday when it's 110. I like the heat, and really miss it the rest of the year, but it must sound terrible to people who have not lived it.

Apparently, it's not terrible enough, since 4-5000 people are currently moving here every month, mostly from CA. It's having a typical effect. In just the 2 years I have been here, the Democrats have taken over and have already passed and planned numerous new taxes and regulations which are exactly the things I was running away from in CA. The freaking lefties ruin everything they touch, even when they should know better. They just can't resist shitting in their own nest.

MountainMan said...

I am usually up by 6:30AM. My wife often sleeps a little later. I will come down to the kitchen, fix a pot a coffee, and get on the MacBook and check our calendar, financial accounts, news, weather, and then see if Althouse has posted anything yet (like this morning), which I have mentioned before. Then I get started on fixing breakfast and wait for my wife to come down later. I always cherish this private time in the mornings.

23andMe estimates that my wake-up time is 6:41AM by looking at 450 places in my DNA to determine if I have the traits of a morning person or a night owl and also takes account of my age. That's pretty close. You awake and get up earlier as you get older. Sometimes if I am awake at 5:30 or so I go ahead and get up.

bleh said...

The reason that stereotype persists, and always will, is because lazy people all wake up late. That doesn't mean all people who wake up late are lazy. All squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares. No triangles are squares.

tcrosse said...

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Early to bed and early to rise and your girl goes out with the other guys.

Yancey Ward said...

There are two kinds of Night Owls- those who get 3-4 hours of sleep, and those who get at least 8 hours. I am the latter kind. I suspect there is no health detriment to being a Night Owl, per se, just a health detriment to getting too little sleep.

My maternal grandfather was an Extreme Lark- was always up by 4 a.m. His son is too, but my mother is a Night Owl like me and my second oldest sister, while my oldest and youngest sisters are, Larks, though not extreme.

Marcus said...

My sleeping habits correspond to the schedule at the jobs I've worked.
For a five-year period, I used to get up at 4 to be at work (nearby) by 5. I've be home at 145 and take a 20-25 minute power nap. I found, by doing this, I could stay up until 11 pm without a problem.

Now I'm semi-retired and I awake by 6 or earlier. I enjoy that.

THEOLDMAN

Louie Looper said...

Are the people who get up at 4am just trying to avoid other people?

n.n said...

It's not a stereotype. It's a normal distribution of Nature and human processes that correlate with solar cycles.

Phil 314 said...

4:30 to 5:00. On Saturdays I can make it to 6:00. Desert Southwest (definitely with AZ time) makes early rising even better.

AllenS said...

I was a pressman on a 4 color web offset press. We ran 24 hours a day, so we had 3 shifts: 7 am to 3 pm (days), 3 pm to 11 pm (afternoons), then the dreaded midnight shift 11 pm to 7 am, and when we started the midnight shift we started at 11 pm on Sunday night, which meant we got off Friday night at 11 pm and were back to work 48 hours later. We rotated shifts every 4 weeks, month after month, year after year.

Sleeping is relative.

Art in LA said...

I've read that Night Owls have an internal 25 hour clock (and Larks something shorter than 24 hours). So a Night Owl will want to stay up late, but still needs that 8 hours of sleep, so has a hard time waking in the morning. Ben Franklin's "early to bed, early to rise ..." has smeared us Night Owls for centuries!

gahrie said...

My Mom gets up around 4:00 AM and my Dad around 5:00 AM every morning. I'm the opposite. If given the chance I go to sleep around 6:00 AM. This happens every summer, which makes the first couple of weeks of the school year an ordeal for me.

JZ said...

"It’s only a problem if the person finds it undesirable." Naps solve that "problem".

I awaken around 2 am, fall back to sleep around 5 am, get up around 8 am, and follow a socially acceptable schedule until around 2 pm when I get sleepy. That's when I try to go for a walk, but if I don't do that I take a nap.

Somebody said once, "I sleep a lot. So what? I don't do anything bad while I'm asleep."

Ann Althouse said...

Seems like everyone reading this blog is a morning person!

Dust Bunny Queen said...

AllenS: I was a pressman on a 4 color web offset press. We ran 24 hours a day, so we had 3 shifts: 7 am to 3 pm (days), 3 pm to 11 pm (afternoons), then the dreaded midnight shift 11 pm to 7 am,

Small world. My parents were both printers and worked in many newspapers all over the country. My Dad would often take the Lobster Shift. 11-7. More money! Mom almost always worked the 7-3pm shift. They often never saw each other, except as passing through the house in the mornings and in the afternoons/early evenings. My brother and I just got ourselves off to school because no one was home in the early morning.

As a result of the late shift, Dad slept until about 3 or 4pm and about when mom got off work. Then we would have some "family" time. I don't know how they did it! Later, they both worked the same shifts. And that was easier.

The downside of the Lobster shift was that when you got off work at 7am it was still for them "after work". So Dad and some of the guys would head out to a local bar that opened really early. They would have a couple of beers and some snacks.... at 8am before going home. People would look at them and assume that they were a bunch of no good hard core alkies. Instead of just people trying wind down after a long shift. They got the stink eye quite often.

Dad could take a 15 minute deep sleep nap at a moment's notice and wake up refreshed. Probably due to the night shift routine.

Michael K said...

23andMe estimates that my wake-up time is 6:41AM by looking at 450 places in my DNA to determine if I have the traits of a morning person or a night owl and also takes account of my age.

I'll have to look. I have had both 23&me and Ancestry dna profiles and did not notice that option. Plomin's book says 50% of behavior by adulthood is genetic.

Jim at said...

I can't remember the last time I went to bed before midnight. Years, if not decades.

Leland said...

I'm envious of people who can sleep in til 7 or 8!!!

I didn't use an alarm clock for my first 20 years of professional life. I could even vary hours, such as waking up a 1 or 2 am for a particular event rather than the normal 4 to 5 am. Then I realized that part of that was a bit of anxiety related to waking early. So I began setting a late alarm, like a backstop. This got me to sleep in a bit longer and better.

There is a negative aspect. If you choose to not get up when you naturally wake, and push yourself to the alarm; then you'll likely be less productive. Or at least that's my experience, as I've always found oversleeping to be nearly as bad as lack of sleep. The alarm really needs to be a backstop not a goal.

Anonymous said...

Night owl here. I feel a burst of energy at sundown.

On my morning paper route as a kid I sometimes had to go back and check to see if I had delivered papers on a block or just ridden past all the houses. The papers were always there. I just forgot what I had done in the last 15 or 20 minutes.

Later I was in the top 2% of standardized test takers, earned a master's degree in mechanical engineering, and was chosen for honor societies. I now work from home, often well into the night. I see early morning hours, just from the other side.

AllenS said...

There is nothing better than watching the sun come up. It's birth of a new day.

DBQ, working 3 shifts is very hard on relationships. Trust me on this.

Michael K said...

working 3 shifts is very hard on relationships. Trust me on this.

So is being a surgeon.

stlcdr said...

Blogger Unknown said...
Are the people who get up at 4am just trying to avoid other people?

8/14/19, 11:44 AM

All trying to get 'First!' on Althouse blog.

Freeman Hunt said...

For a natural wakeup, it needs to be at least 9:00. May even be an actual night owl if left alone. But with kids, neither of these forms of existence are possible.

Bruce Hayden said...

Blogger Yancey Ward said...
“There are two kinds of Night Owls- those who get 3-4 hours of sleep, and those who get at least 8 hours. I am the latter kind. I suspect there is no health detriment to being a Night Owl, per se, just a health detriment to getting too little sleep.”

Do know one guy who has been a 3-4 hour guy at least all of his adult life. Now a triple doc (MD, JD, PhD). At one point, he was running overnight sleep studies, and his employer told him that since he was awake all day anyway, they might as well send him to Medical school. That’s probably been 30 years now. Have a brother who has been a 5-6 hour lark for the last 40 years. Doesn’t seem to have affected either one.

My theory is that your body needs a certain amount of sleep. There are people who actually only need that much. I think that the real health issue is when your body needs more (say 8 hours a night) and you short it for an extended period of time.

I have been a night owl since college. After first semester freshman year, I never took a class that started before 10 am. Better even, afternoon classes. On multiple occasions over my working life, I had bosses who weren’t happy with my hours. But ultimately, they accepted it, when I would outperform everyone else in the office, working, for example, my normal noon to midnight.

Bruce Hayden said...

“Night owl here. I feel a burst of energy at sundown.”

My most progressive time was usually from maybe 8-11 pm.

MountainMan said...

AllenS: I was a pressman on a 4 color web offset press. We ran 24 hours a day, so we had 3 shifts: 7 am to 3 pm (days), 3 pm to 11 pm (afternoons), then the dreaded midnight shift 11 pm to 7 am.

In the chemical company where I worked we initially ran this type of shift schedule as well. Here in the US, 30-40 years ago, it was 7 days of 7-3; 1 day off; 7 days of 3-11; 2 days off; 7 days of 11-7, 4 days off. Then start over. There were 4 crews, with 3 crews always on and 1 off. I think the proper name for this was the "continental shift system" or something like that.

Some time in the 90s we switched some of our US workers to 12 hour shifts from 6:00AM-6:00PM then 6:00PM-6:00AM. By then I did not work in manufacturing and never did figure out the on/off days or 4 crew rotation but it always involved 4 days on then so many days off, then switch to the alternate shift. There are some web sites out there that explain how it works.

I had some projects at our plant in England in the late 70s' early 80's and they worked the "modified continental shift system". It was like this:

3 days 7-3
2 days 3-11
2 days 11-7
1 day off
2 days 7-3
3 days 2-11
2 days 11-7
2 days off
2 days 7-3
2-days 3-11
3 days 11-7
4 days off
...start over

I thought to myself it was horrible, having to work all three shifts in a 7-day period. I didn't see how people could do it and work safely. My host at the plant said it was perfectly logical to them. "They only have to miss 3 consecutive nights at the pub once every 28 days."

Brian said...

I don't naturally get up at 0430...but I started setting an alarm and got up at that time often enough that I accidentally trained my dogs to rise at that time and now we do it every day whether the alarm goes off or not.

GOOD.

Time to get after it.

/jockovoice

AllenS said...

That's some bad shit, MountainMan.

iowan2 said...

The downside of the Lobster shift was that when you got off work at 7am it was still for them "after work". So Dad and some of the guys would head out to a local bar that opened really early. They would have a couple of beers and some snacks.... at 8am before going home.

In the mid 70's Des Moines had 2 tire plants working three shifts. The supporting businesses around the plants adjusted to meet the demands of their workforce. That meant college boys could get up early, take in the cultural experience and still make a 9:00am class, aroused with half a buzz on. Life was grand for a plowboy, who's 6:00 am experiences up to that point where quite different.

The Vault Dweller said...

People I've been around have always gotten up early. To the point where getting up at 7 a.m. or later seems like getting up late. When I was growing up my mother would always get up at 4:30 am or earlier, and my dad would be up by 6:00 a.m. Most of the people in my social circle are up at 6:00 a.m.`

The Vault Dweller said...

It is like that old adage,

Early to rise, and early to bed, makes a man healthy and wealthy, but socially dead.

Malesch Morocco said...

Didn't you once write about Pepys waking up in the middle of the night and doing things and then going back to sleep? And commenting about your own situation being the same?

Lazarus said...

Louis J. Ptáček ...

... whose name actually means "little bird" ...

... so I guess he's an expert on larks ...