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  1.  (10824.1)
    I consider myself a nocturnal person. At some point right after puberty, whenever I could I started going to bed when I got home from school, waking up for dinner, and then staying up all night.

    I've been looking into this, and trying to see if it is indeed possible for a human being to naturally gravitate towards a nocturnal lifestyle (aside from goth tendencies or a life of third shift employment). I know there are consequences to this sort of lifestyle like vitamin D issues, but taking supplements can counter that. I find it hard to find anything about humans ever being actually nocturnal, but being a person with light and heat intolerance, would that not make me a naturally nocturnal person?

    How do you feel about a night time schedule? What pressures have you felt from it? Do you think some people are just naturally night people, or is it the sociological differences between day and night activities that attract someone to day vs dusk?
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2012
    I knew a guy who'd gone so nocturnal that being awake during the day gave him migraines because it was too bright out. He had to wear thick wrap-arounds to cope until contacts advanced enough that he could get a pair so dark they did the trick. Of course, they made him look like a soulless spawn of Satan but he found that to be a feature, rather than a bug.

    As for me, I'm not 100% nocturnal. Most nights I'm up until 2-3am my time, getting only about four hours of sleep a night usually.
    • CommentTimeSep 4th 2012
    I'm similarly nocturnal. The post-class nap-til-dinner/up all night was precisely my college schedule as well. Even when working and I didn't get that nap buffer I'd, like Ren, push on until 2-3 am. If I don't have a day time schedule I find myself up until dawn and sleeping to mid-late afternoon. The biggest pressures I've felt are in trying to go diurnal. I tend to get that gravel eyed feeling, constantly tired, and more irritable. Every attempt I've made to correct it keeps for a week or two at most before I very quickly night-shift again.

    I mostly don't mind my night schedule, except the girl I'm dating is the opposite, a "morning person" I have a hard time fathoming it. I have no serious problems with it, but it has caused some scheduling clashes. Other than that I get the occasional person that thinks I'm weird. Mostly I just find it more peaceful and calm.
  2.  (10824.4)
    I used to stay up all night long, and not go to bed until the sun came up. I thought it was really nice to have all my free time in a big block. It's also very peaceful, if you don't mind being a bit on your own. Eventually though, I decided that the disadvantages were starting to get to me. If I needed to run an errand, or meet up with someone it would generally be a huge pain. Lots of people, it seems, find 11am a pretty reasonable hour to do things in. Prime sleeping time if you're an all night type. The other thing I noticed is that if you sleep past noon, everyone always assumes you're a lazy person. It doesn't matter that I worked the same amount, and slept the same amount.

    So these days I've given up the nocturnal lifestyle, and learned to embrace the sun. Though I still go to sleep around 2am, so it's more of a balanced approach.
  3.  (10824.5)
    I'm nocturnal-ish. When I'm working I can get up 8am go to midnight or 1am then bed, ad inifinitum with no problems, but when unemployed I'll sleep in until 2 or 3 in the afternoon and then stay up until 5 or 6 am before going to sleep again. Honestly, if I could I'd probably sleep 24 hours a day. The world in my dreams is generally much nicer than the waking one. So I guess I'm more hibernate-y than nocturnal.
    • CommentTimeSep 5th 2012
    I crash early, say 9PM, but I wake early, well before dawn.
  4.  (10824.7)
    I didn't intend for this to just end up being a census of who is nocturnal and who is not.

    I was actually asking questions about nocturnal humanity. Is it totally unnatural? Is it a natural reaction to the loud and hectic pace of daily life? Can physiological differences actually lead a human being to be intrinsically nocturnal? Is an opposite sleep schedule something only of habit, or is in inbred? Can one's circadian rhythm be damaged, or turned topsy turvy?

    Basically, I'm wondering if nocturnalism is nature or nurture, and how realistically it could be battled.

    @Renthing- so, if someone has light intolerance, that would naturally make them prone to prefer the night, yes? Perhaps skew their circadian rhythm permantently?

    @J.Brennan - So for you it's about an escape from the hectic daytime, yes? How do you schedule things with your girlfriend, then? It's getting frustrating trying to hang out with my fellow, as he falls asleep and i'm up for hours with nothing to do, then he's up for hours while I hide under his blankets.

    @Birds Use Stairs - How did you shift from a sleep-at-dawn schedule to a balanced one?
    • CommentAuthorRenThing
    • CommentTimeSep 5th 2012
    @Renthing- so, if someone has light intolerance, that would naturally make them prone to prefer the night, yes? Perhaps skew their circadian rhythm permantently?

    Don't know if it's permanent. From what I hear (I don't talk to the guy much anymore since I moved) he's living a more day-time-oriented life these days but I could see someone getting so acclimated to it that it would take years for them to change.
  5.  (10824.9)
    @Rachæl Tyrell I just started going to bed earlier and forcing myself out of bed at 10am. I've never been a creature of habit really, so changing schedules was no big deal. I quit smoking in a similar way, I just stopped smoking all those cigarettes.

    I thought I was just nocturnal by nature for a long time, but since I've switched I've come to think that no one really is. It's just something you make yourself to do or not do. It goes without saying that I can only speak to my own experience of course.
  6.  (10824.10)
    @Rachæl Tyrell - I would say we are biologically hardwired to be day dwellers.

    A statistic served up by the LAT suggests a fundamental problem in adjusting to odd hours: Up to 15% of human genes function on a schedule, with highly regulated patterns of activity. These genes tick-tock all over the body, affecting the timing of scads of biological functions.

    Another problem is melatonin, a hormone that aids sleep, that’s released at night, while an opposing hormone, cortisol, is kept in check in the wee hours only to pour out in the morning, turning on the motors of the body’s daytime functions. These patterns of secretion hold true for night workers, the Times reports, meaning that they sleep less, with poorer quality.

    The Times points to a spot in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN, where the body’s master clock is located. In the morning, light hits receptors in the eyes which then tell the SCN to get the body started for the day. The SCN, meanwhile, talks to lots of other peripheral “clocks” throughout the body.

    For instance, the nighttime release of melatonin is thought to inhibit tumor growth. And production of melatonin usually peaks in the middle of the night, but stops when light reaches the eye in the morning or when a light is switched on in the middle of the night. It’s a possible explanation for why cancer rates appear higher in night-shift workers

    • CommentTimeSep 5th 2012
    @Rachæl Tyrell: The escape from the hectic is certainly a big part of it. As for the scheduling, it can get tough. I try and see her as early as I can, we do a fair amount of brunches and evenings. After she conks out I'm pretty content to read in bed with her or slip out and watch horror movies (that aren't her thing). It can get frustrating, but as a price of admission (as Dan Savage would say) it's pretty low.
    • CommentTimeSep 5th 2012
    This bro kinda-proved that some people are naturally inclined towards crazy sleeping patterns ("crazy" being anything from 18- to 52-hour cycles, and "naturally inclined" being "without knowing when the Sun is doing its thing"). Some more research into the idea of circadians and biorhythms might help you out here.

    I want to genuinely believe in opening my blinds at night so that dawn will clue my body in to waking up. Hasn't worked yet.
  7.  (10824.13)
    I've been more or less nocturnal since birth; all my mom's attempts to change me to a more 'normal' schedule never really worked well for me.
    Work a night shift now, and it suits me a lot better than morning work I used to do.
  8.  (10824.14)
    On the nature v. nurture question vis a vis human nocturnalism, I'd lean more toward nurture than nature for causing it. I tend to go more nocturnal when I'm unemployed more out of depression and simply not wanting to get out of bed then out of any strong physiological urge (anecdotal, I know). I think inasmuch as environment, diet, etc effects brain chemistry is the primary motivator for it. As a species we're evolved to be active during the day because at night it's harder to see and that's when the monsters get us. I also think living in urban areas fucks with it a lot since the background noise in a city doesn't cycle in the same way, so the part of the lizard brain wired for audio has a harder time picking out what is day and what is night.
  9.  (10824.15)
    -I think it depends on the person. My mom tried for years to make me a day person and it never stuck.
    I do better, and am happier, with a more night-y schedule.
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2012 edited
    I thought for a long time I was nocturnal, but that is apparently not the case. I like to hit the bed around midnight and wake up around 8-9, and it turns out that creatively the hours before noon are my most productive time. This summer most of the things I've written I've done sitting on the balcony, sipping coffee from a thermos mug and hammering away at the keyboard. When I was working as a freelancer, whenever I got my sleep routine work so that I woke up at around nine, I got most of the stuff done in the morning hours. I just feel that if I'm in bed 'till noon, the day is utterly wasted.

    But it seems I've kind of grown into this, I used to stay awake late as much as the next teenager did, but this has started seriously changing especially after I've crept between 30 years of age and death.

    Also, thinking about adopting a somewhat more natural sleep cycle - ie. going to sleep at around 21-22 in the evening, sleeping for a few hours, puttering around for a hour or two, reading books etc and then sleeping a couple of hours more. That's more or less how people are apparently "meant" to sleep. I know that when I stopped stressing about waking up at 4am and not getting back to sleep immediately, but instead got up and did something low-key like reading and tried again, my quality of sleep and alertness levels peaked.
  10.  (10824.17)
    From the age of about 12 onwards I always had far better things to do than fall asleep. I'd watch the shittiest late-night tv, read books, whatever, till at least two am, sometimes till dawn, then I'd get an hour or two's sleep. I really don't know how I did as well as I did at school... Then I went away to uni at 18 and it got worse, as unless I was out dancing at the weekends there was basically nothing for me to spend any energy on. I'd stay up later and later all week, almost a 28 hour schedule, then sundays I'd be so far gone I wouldn't even feel sleepy till the sun rose on monday morning. Of course, I was sure I was doing really good work when I was pulling these all-nighters, but that was an epic piece of self-deception.

    What cured me was starting work. I've had a series of jobs in libraries and bookshops, and hauling stacks of them around every day finally left me worn out enough at the end of every day to crash out by one am at the latest, then comfortably wake up with plenty of time to get sorted for work. Having something to actually tie me to a 24-hour routine was the kicker, as well as having something genuinely interesting to do through the day. I managed to keep this waking-before-ten thing going even when I was unemployed (girlfriend with a job helped a lot) and I started finding that from nine till noon I can get more done creatively than I could from midnight to 6. Of course there's an 18-month old in the house now so we're on her schedule these days, but that's another thread
    • CommentAuthorFlxzr
    • CommentTimeSep 6th 2012
    Night shift workers are more likely to be overweight, which of course makes them more likely to suffer from a whole range of things from diabetes to cancer. Although perhaps some of the illness is just from being up all night rather than being overweight. Of course, that's on average, maybe some people do better at night and don't suffer? If that is the case then I guess it's a minority of people.

    As for all the people who have found their sleep patterns changing over the years, New Scientist had an article about teenagers sleeping patterns (probably a couple of years back) and as I recall it's well accepted that teenagers tend naturally to being night-owls. They go to bed later and wake up later. Most people kind of grow out of that, though. I know that I used to happily sit up all night but I was unemployed in my early twenties and found that I could barely stay in bed past 10 or 11AM. I still rarely sleep past that, even when I've been up late.

    This seems to be the article: Subscribers only, though...

    It has long been clear that different individuals can have markedly different sleep patterns. Most of us display some degree of "morningness" or "eveningness": we are either "larks" or "owls". This is largely a matter of genetics. Natural early risers are born that way, and so are people who prefer to get up late and stay up deep into the night.

    In December 2004, Till Roenneberg at Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, suggested that, in addition, our degree of morningness or eveningness changes with age. Roenneberg's idea was based on his studies of the sleep habits of more than 25,000 people aged between 8 and 90. This revealed that, though young children tend to be larks, from the age of about 14 they typically begin going to sleep (and waking) later and later (Current Biology, vol 14, p R1038). He also found that around the age of 20, the trend reverses and people start sleeping at steadily earlier times. Women reach this turning point at an age of 19.5 years on average, while for men it comes at 20.9 years. "Most young children are morning-type people - they wake early and are at their most alert in the morning," he says. "Around the onset of puberty, there is an alteration in the body's clock so that teenagers are shifted forwards, becoming evening-type people." They perform better later in the day, in the afternoon or evening, and find it hard to sleep before 11 pm, midnight or even 1 am.

    Another interesting wee snippet:

    People with the long genes tend to be night owls - late to bed and late to rise. After staying awake all night, this group only scored half as well on cognitive tests as their "short" counterparts.

    Hmm, I'm worried I may be going slightly off-topic...
  11.  (10824.19)
    @ Fixr - No no no, not at all!

    Man, I wish I had a subscription to New Scientist now.
  12.  (10824.20)
    Most people experience a biologically-induced shift in their sleeping patterns starting with puberty. They naturally stay awake later and wake up later, even when there's social pressure to do otherwise. (This is why it's such a mistake to have high schools start so early in the day, while elementary schools start later... they should be the other way around.) For some people this shift can be enough to make them quasi-nocturnal, and produces the stereotype of the teenager who stays up all night and sleeps until supper on weekends. But most people shift back as they get older, leading to the stereotype of the senior citizen who wakes up before dawn and falls asleep in front of the TV waiting for the 11:00 news to start. Some of that shift back is caused by the pressure of the year-round 9-to-5 job, which requires it, but there's a biological component to it too. So a middle-aged person (30-50) who feels most alert at night may simply be someone who hasn't shifted back.