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Are Morning People Insensitive?

Ask a haggard Night Person, present writer included, and you’re likely to hear: Oh yes. When a Morning Person bounces around all bright-eyed and perky…we shudder. We’re also pretty sure we know which kind of person the following author might be:

“I was also sick of my neighbors, as most Parisians are. I now knew every second of the morning routine of the family upstairs. At 7:00 am alarm goes off, boom, Madame gets out of bed, puts on her deep-sea divers’ boots, and stomps across my ceiling to megaphone the kids awake. The kids drop bags of cannonballs onto the floor, then, apparently dragging several sledgehammers each, stampede into the kitchen. They grab their chunks of baguette and go and sit in front of the TV, which is always showing a cartoon about people who do nothing but scream at each other and explode. Every minute, one of the kids cartwheels (while bouncing cannonballs) back into the kitchen for seconds, then returns (bringing with it a family of excitable kangaroos) to the TV. Meanwhile the toilet is flushed, on average, fifty times per drop of urine expelled. Finally, there is a ten-minute period of intensive yelling, and at 8:15 on the dot they all howl and crash their way out of the apartment to school.” ― Stephen Clarke, A Year in the Merde

What’s Wrong With Us?

Is there a real reason for all that morning grouchiness from so many people who’d rather go to bed past midnight and sleep half the morning away? Don’t they know how the world works? Are they lazy? Or are Night Persons just crabby?

Whew. It turns out we PM People might have at least one very Reasonable Reason. (Hangovers or nasty dispositions don’t count—no excuses there.) But the Reasonable Reason is, researchers say, that night owls are more likely to be hurting. Not only does morning racket assail our tender ears and drag us unwillingly into the day, but we are feeling more physical pain than Morning People do. And we feel more pain all day long.

…A Little Sympathy?

You Morning People are robust, all right. You’re naturally less sensitive to pain. Night People also tend to run tireder—on average, we accumulate a bigger sleep deficit during the week than early birds do (having to get up for work puts the kibosh on late circadian rhythms). But even without short sleep, greater pain sensitivity is still part of our physiology. It’s as true for freelancers and retirees as for 9-to-5ers, research has shown.

So the next time a Night Person you know acts miserable in the morning…cut us some slack, would you? We’re not lazy, we’re sensitive. (So sensitive we won’t even hold a grudge about your insensitivity.)



We’ll try harder.

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