Can You BECOME an Early Bird?

I have been reading a lot as of late about habits: How to establish habits and how our personalities can shape the way we view and create habits. This is all thanks to books The Power of Habit and Better Than Before.

They are both great reads, and I highly suggest you check them both out. I won’t go into habits here today, but one point that both authors make: One is either a Lark (aka early bird) or an Owl (stays up late), and that trying to change is pointless and can backfire.

It would be easy for me to agree, as an Owl for many, many years. There are countless articles that say creative people — a label I proudly proclaim — are owls. supposedly owls find most of their creative burst late into the night; this is where they function best.

Since high school and college, and as a stay-at-home mother, this has been my truth. In high school I was staying up late as editor of the school newspaper with my late mentor Michael Dunlap. He taught me the art of descriptive writing, page layout and that the pairing of frosting and animal crackers with a Diet Coke can be an acceptable dinner. I maintained that work schedule in college, even working at my dorm at the front desk from 11 pm to 3 am, eventually as a local TV reporter working noon to 11 pm, and as a stay-at-home mom, finally getting creative time to myself when my children were sleeping, late into the early hours of the morning.

This is who I thought I was, and this is who both of these books on establishing good habits said I could not change.

But I disagree.

As a child I was up before dawn, waking up at 5:30 am every morning (maybe even earlier on Saturdays to cozy up with my older brother in the orange and brown country-printed velour sofa while “Mighty Mouse” reruns played at the start of the Saturday morning cartoons.) It wasn’t hard for me to get up. I was alive and awake. I was productive. I did not receive a sudden creative burst of energy at night; I felt tired and ready for bed.

I also remember getting up bright and early, serving as my mom’s sidekick and traveling companion with her to Quiz Bowl tournaments, of which she was the high school advisor. I loved seeing the sun coming up and feeling like I was one of the few who were willing to put in the effort of getting up early.

Fast forward to now. The summer before my oldest would go to high school and start early-morning football practice at 6:30 am. My other child, would be in middle school, meaning that both boys would have to be up and gone before my normal waking time of 8 am. I don’t know if it is because of necessity or if it’s the questioner in me, but I want to take on this theory that you can’t change from a lark to an owl, and see if it is true. I know it won’t be easy, and I know my family will have to deal with a cranky person for two weeks, which it will probably be how long it will take to switch my sleeping habits, but I’m up for the challenge.

I’ll report back in the next week to let you know how it is going. Do you agree with me? Can you change your sleeping habits or are they ingrained in you as deeply as blue eyes and curly hair?

– Lori

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