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spring forward, fall back

I've always been a night owl, but it wasn't until I became self-employed that my natural sleep cycle was really allowed to thrive. And thrive it did! I go to bed at dawn and rise in the afternoon. As odd as it may seem to go to bed at 5 or 6 in the morning and get up at lunchtime, it's what feels most normal to me. For now anyway.

I'm convinced my internal "day" clock is greater than 24-hours because my sleep cycle is always drifting forward. Years ago, I maintained a relatively normal life by going to bed around 2 or 3am. Then it was 3 or 4am. Then 4 or 5am. And I've actually struggling to hold onto a 5-6am bedtime for a while now. It wants to creep forward. Most days it's more like 6-6:30am. My schedule is so far shifted from the norm now that having to be up early for an appointment is quite difficult and means I'll grab barely enough sleep to even function. It's kind of crazy and I often wonder how many more years of time shifting it would take before I found myself going to bed at 11pm like normal person for a while.

There's clearly a genetic component to this because my entire family is prone to it. My younger brother and I seem to have it worst, though. He manages a normal job by having special hours just for him. He goes in a few hours later than everyone else and stays a few hours later than everyone else. On the weekends, it's not uncommon for my brother and I to be having conversation and snacks at 3 or 4am while the man slumbers away in with his normal sleep pattern.

But here's the odd glitch in this whole thing: my sleep cycle is also affected by seasonal light shifts. As the days grow longer in springtime, my days begin to contract. They aren't contracting really, they're just drifting backwards. I start getting tired earlier and going to bed earlier. It's nothing too dramatic, but I always find that around this time of year, my sleep cycle drops back an hour. Instead of going to bed around 6:30am, I've been going to bed around 5:30am. Still crazy, but at least it's a shift in the right direction right?

Then we move the clocks forward, putting me right back where I was.

Come fall, the opposite happens. The days contract, I find myself staying up an hour later and gain no ground when we move the clocks back. Very annoying.


( 12 comments — Add a comment )
Mar. 9th, 2012 11:55 pm (UTC)
there was a study where people had no access to clocks or sunlight. some of their daily cycles were like 30 hours. i like sleeping at dawn too but can't do that during the week. too bad the diurnals control the world!
Mar. 10th, 2012 01:10 am (UTC)
It'd be really cool to find out what my wake/sleep cycle would be like if I didn't know what time of day or night it was.

too bad the diurnals control the world!

Seriously. Who put them in charge?!

I sympathize with your situation. When I used to have to get up like a normal person, I'd always drag through my days, always feel more awake in the evenings and always have trouble falling asleep. I guess some of us are just wired differently when it comes to sleeping.
Mar. 10th, 2012 02:50 am (UTC)
Wow you have the EXACT same internal timeclock as me! My year that I was off for my disability, once I heard the birds start waking up in the AM I knew it was time to goto bed.

I'm back to work and am forced to get up at 6:15 to get to work which means that I have to force myself to bed before 1AM if I plan to be semi-functional all day.

I work 4-10's. Usually by 11AM I'm crashing...no amount of caffeine can help. Thank god I have 3 days off to A) Rest up B) have a few normal days of living.

I love living in AZ - we don't observe (as my mother always called it) Daylight's Stupid Time.

Both my parents and my sister are nightowls. My sister sometimes can go clear though the following day if need be.

I freaking hate that the rest of the world revolves around getting up before the sun's up. I had a day in December everything was pitch black due to massive cloud cover, I nearly had a freaking fit because by 7AM when I was leaving my house it was STILL pitch black out and didn't start lightening up until I got to work 30 minutes later. Grrrrr....
Mar. 10th, 2012 02:55 am (UTC)
Speaking of Nightowls...
We actually have one that was making his (her?) little buzz-chirp outside our back door when I let Black_Dog outside to pee this morning. Nice to hear her back. Spring must almost be here too.
Mar. 10th, 2012 08:03 am (UTC)
I used to think I was very strange for being such an extreme night owl, but I've found there's a lot of us! I guess it's the wonders of the internet that we end up getting to know people who are awake at the same time of night.

once I heard the birds start waking up in the AM I knew it was time to goto bed

Yes! When I hear birds, my brain just goes "okay you can sleep now." I'm not always up until the birds start chirping, but it happens quite often.

I'm back to work and am forced to get up at 6:15 to get to work which means that I have to force myself to bed before 1AM if I plan to be semi-functional all day.


I love living in AZ - we don't observe (as my mother always called it) Daylight's Stupid Time.

Maybe I should move there. I *hate* when we push the locks forward.

My sister sometimes can go clear though the following day if need be.

I'll periodically skip a night (well, morning actually) of sleep to try to reset my schedule. It's never more than a quickie temporary fix, though. Within a few days I'm be right back to my norm.
Mar. 10th, 2012 02:51 am (UTC)
But what about sunlight, or light therapy?
Have you played around with actually getting serious sunlight early in the day? (I've done this by cycling to work, during certain lucky periods in my life). The exercise, early enough in the day, seems to help too. Sleep cycle gets similarly screwy when I don't exercise enough, but it's usually: sleep for a few hours early, and then toss-and-turn for the remainder. Now it's : fight the food-coma around 2PM, 2nd wind, and tired again around 10PM. Speaking of which...ZZZZZZZzzzzzz.
Mar. 10th, 2012 07:47 am (UTC)
Re: But what about sunlight, or light therapy?
If sunlight blasting through the window over my bed and onto my face counts as getting serious sunlight early in the day, then yes ;)

If I had to get up by a certain time everyday, I could eventually get on a normal schedule. When I was in school and when I had a regular job, I survived (even if I was always late & always draging through the day). But I feel better on this schedule because then I'm not at odds with my natural sleep cycle. The drawbacks are that I miss a lot of daytime activity and I'm out of sync with my husband (and most of the world).

My ideal would be to get back to my schedule from years ago when I went to bed by 3am every night. That was a good balance for me.
Mar. 10th, 2012 02:02 pm (UTC)
Sleep schedules and relationships...
My own personal experience with dissimilar body clocks was a disaster... She always wanted to chat, or other stuff, at times when all I wanted to do was sleep.

You seem to be pretty happy with it.

Does the schedule shifting improve the quality of your time together with The_Man, or does it introduce friction?

Mar. 10th, 2012 03:43 am (UTC)
There's a medical term for people who can't sleep on a normal shift. I stumbled upon it when doing research on my hyper somnolence. I can't remember what it's called though. Time shift something or other.
Mar. 10th, 2012 03:46 am (UTC)
Delayed sleep-phase syndrome, here for wikipedia's description: http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delayed_sleep_phase_disorder

Edited at 2012-03-10 03:51 am (UTC)
Mar. 10th, 2012 07:36 am (UTC)
Yes that! I've read about that before and it describes my sleeping issues perfectly.
Mar. 10th, 2012 02:11 pm (UTC)
I’m more alert late at night than during the day so I usually go to bed at midnight but when I found myself unemployed for a few months I would stay up to 2-3AM as that seemed more natural.

But even so I’m not beholding to a particular cycle, my only problem with sleeping is I can’t overdo it, If I sleep more than six hours I start to feel like crap and the more hours I sleep the worse it gets, and I’m certainly not a morning person, I’m really dopy in the morning, real slow on the uptake, I even put things in the wrong place like milk in the cupboard and forget what I’m doing, then “Bing,” it’s like somebody turns on my brain and I can function like a normal person.
( 12 comments — Add a comment )


roxy burglar
Roxy Bisquaint

Roxy Bisquaint...

Is self-indulgent. Over thinks everything. Tweets too much. Looks really good in these jeans. Wants to eat butterscotch. Makes herself laugh. Obsesses about aging. Does some crunches. Lives with two ghosts. Procrastinates daily. Measures once, cuts twice. Hates Foo Fighters. Drinks lots of coffee (keep it coming). Puts spiders outside. Brings balance to the force. Draws a perfect curve. Enjoys dark chocolate. Bangs on the drums. Always gets in the slow line. Orders from a menu. Hopes to be reincarnated. Speaks fluent Sarah Connor. Cooks tasty crack theory. Loves a good storm. Dances like a dork. Picks some locks. Tips well. Refuses to share the popcorn. Dreams about the future. Ignores the clock. Sings off key. Has a superpower. Shoots the paper bad guys. Needs some eyeliner. Goes to bed at dawn. Can't resist good smut. Quotes movie lines. Eats whipped yogurt. Lets the story tell itself. Maintains a rich fantasy life. Knows all the mysteries of the gods and of the universe.

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