Sunday, June 15, 2008

Like Being 80 Years Old

Can a night owl become a morning lark?

As a die-hard night person myself, I can attest to the strange allure of becoming a morning person. I love the softness of the morning light and the freshness of the day. The world feels brand new and full of possibility. I've tried numerous times to change my sleeping pattern only to fall back into my normal rhythm within a week or two. Yet there's something about the night that really resonates with me. I feel more creative, more alive, more at home at night than I do during the daytime.

Well, I'm not alone in my attempts at diurnal rehabilitation. After years of fantasizing about it (and despite the cheery smugness of most morning people she knows) this Slate writer attempts to change her habits—with the help of her doctor, melatonin supplements and yellow sunglasses—and finally become a morning person herself.

Choice cut:
At 6:30 on a weekday evening, I popped my first melatonin pill. Dr. Richardson had warned me that the pill might make me drowsy as soon as I took it, and sure enough, 15 minutes later my brain was shrouded in a thick fog. It felt like I had taken a teaspoon of Nyquil and I would now drift into a blissful, drugged sleep. Except that bedtime wasn't for another four hours.

The yellow glasses went on at 8 p.m. I looked like a cross between Bono and Henry Kissinger. At a get-together at a friend's house that evening, I wandered around in a sleepy, self-conscious haze. I went home at about 10 and picked up a novel to read in bed. A half-hour later, the book was slipping from my lifeless hands. So this is what being a morning person is like, I thought. It's like being 80 years old.

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