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Dawn or Dusk -- Considering the Advantages of Early Morning

Nov 12, 2008 • general

Dawn
Dawn -- The day is just beginning!

Ever since I moved to Eagle Mountain, I've been carpooling with a colleague who picks me up at 5:30 a.m. This means I wake up at 4:45 a.m. to start getting ready. We roll in to work at 6:30 a.m. -- long before the secretary comes in to turn on the lights.

In the early morning, I enjoy watching the sun rise slowly over the mountains. It gradually changes the dark scenery outside to gray and then blue. I've never been a morning person, so the daily experience of watching dawn break is somewhat new for me.

However, last Friday my carpooling buddy was out of town, so I had to drive in alone. Why wake up at five in the morning, I thought? Instead I woke up late and drove in late, getting to work at around 9 a.m., long after the sun had already peered over the ridge. The entire landscape was already light, alive, and bustling.

Dusk
Dusk -- What! The day is already gone?

Throughout the day I felt alert and productive, but around 5 p.m., the sun dipped behind the mountains. The sky turned gray, and only grew darker as I watched the time pass. It felt depressing to know that the day was ending before I could enjoy the daylight outside.

These two experiences caused me to reflect on whether it's better to be a morning or night person. My father-in-law, a doctor, tells me no one is locked into being a morning or night person. Your preference is merely the result of your sleeping habits. If you're a night owl and want to become a morning person, you could.

Fewer distractions occur in the early morning. TV has fewer shows (and is less likely to even be on). Fewer events take place that might be distracting. Crime is less common. It's quieter, and you get to watch the sun rise while everyone else sleeps.

On the other hand, night has its advantages. You don't have a time limit for your activities -- you work until you finish, whether that's 11 p.m. or 2 a.m. The kids are either asleep or resigned to their rooms (whereas in the morning they're welcome to come out anytime). At night I tend to be more alert and loosened up.

When I lived in Florida, I knew a lady who woke up every morning at 3:30 a.m. She worked for the post office, so I assumed she had an early route, but not really. At 3:30 a.m., she went to a local gym and worked out (she'd made a special deal with the owner to let her in at that hour). After that she sorted mail, at 9 a.m. delivered her route, and by 7 in the evenings she went to sleep.

I find that extremely early schedule a little unworkable -- she didn't have a family. Still, she was the cheery, alert type, always full of energy, perhaps because of her morning routine.

Overall, there seems to be an overwhelming case for getting up early. Yet it is so difficult. It's hard to walk up those stairs to bed, turn off the computer, the lights, the TV, to say good night to loved ones, tucking in children. In a way, I feel like I'm going home before the game is over, leaving during the third quarter while the score is tied. I want to enjoy every last minute, stay up and squeeze every ounce of life out of my day. As a result, I sometimes stay up until my mind goes numb and my body absolutely compels me to sleep. This of course makes it painful to wake up the next morning.

Regardless of my decision, I'll be carpooling in the early morning hour until April of next year, so for now I'm trying out the early bird routine.

Are you a morning or night person, and does it matter?

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Photos from Flickr (Dawn, Dusk)

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About Tom Johnson

Tom Johnson

I'm a technical writer based in the California San Francisco Bay area. Topics I write about on this blog include technical writing, authoring and publishing tools, API documentation, tech comm trends, visual communication, technical writing career advice, information architecture and findability, developer documentation, and more. If you're a professional or aspiring technical writer, be sure to subscribe to email updates using the form above. You can learn more about me here.