Monday, May 18, 2009

coffee? bedtime?

I mentioned in the last post that I'm not a coffee drinker. This post reminds me that I appear to be in the non coffee-drinking minority. I remember being told that I'd get hooked once I got to college, but I never felt the need. Partially, it's because caffeine doesn't really work as a stimulant for me (although it does appear to help my migraines).

The real reason I haven't really tried coffee or other stimulants is that I simply don't stay up late to finish work (I have stayed late to finish work, but that has only rarely cut into actual sleeping time). I am not a slacker by any means; in fact I usually take my responsibilities too seriously. Regardless, I have never pulled an all-nighter. Most of the people I knew in college who drank gallons of coffee and pulled all-nighters regularly didn't have any more work than me (in fact, as a geology major I had considerably more work than most) and they probably got about the same amount of sleep. They just became nocturnal. I never understood what was so heroic about that.

I'm a morning person. When it's past my bedtime, I'm simply not functional and it's better for me just to go to bed. I can wake up obscenely early in a pinch, but I need to get at least a couple hours of solid sleep before I'm functional again. My personal internal clock, which I was able to follow in grad school, prodded me to go to bed at 10:30 or 11, wake up to pee between the hours of 3 and 5, sleep somewhat lightly from then on, and wake up for good between 7 and 7:30.

I'm fortunate that my personal sleep cycle fits well with standard American business hours. Too many of my friends are caffeine and/or sleeping aid addicts. I think they'd save a lot of aggravation (and money) if they could just work out a schedule that would fit with their internal clock and would stop stressing out about "insomnia" when the sleep they do get adds up to at least 8 hours.


Jessica Ball said...

You've just described me as well as yourself! I never drink coffee unless I'm on one of those grueling, cross-country, drive-through-the-night trips, and even then I'm not fond of it.

I also never understood how pulling an all-nighter would help, either. My brain shuts down around midnight, and unless I'm doing something that's more assembly than analysis (putting together a poster, for instance), it's a pointless effort to stay up later. Besides, if you have to spend the next few days recovering by sleeping late, you've made yourself less productive, not more.

Anonymous said...

I, on the other hand, did pull all-nighters, and did so constantly. I don't drink coffee at all and Coke/Pepsi doesn't give me a caffeine buzz. What I am, is naturally nocturnal. With no outside commitments I will, within 24-48 hours revert to a 5am-3pm sleep period. Nighttime is simply when I'm most awake.

What gets me is when people insist that if I just stick to a schedule, I'll get used to dragging my sorry arse into the office at 5.45 every morning and staying alert for twelve hours. But I don't. Funnily enough, I've never heard anyone lecture a night-shifter that he'd just "get used to it eventually" - quite the opposite.

Sleep patterns are funny things!