Why I'm not a morning person
“Can you knock on my door and wake me before you go to bed tonight?”
“Why,” asked my Greek landlady, “are you getting up at that hour?”
“What,” I responded, “are you doing still pottering around at 3am?”
I often heard my landlady banging pots and cupboard doors in her upstairs kitchen as I struggled out of bed long before the sun peaked its rays over the horizon.
“I’m picking up a group at the airport,” I’d tell her, “so please keep the noise down. I’m going to bed at 8pm.”
She just laughed at me. “Who goes to bed that early?”
I’d been working in Athens as a meet and greet guide for a month when Olympic Airways discontinued its international route from Sydney to Athens via Bangkok.
This decision caused widespread chaos to all inbound Japanese groups who until then arrived and departed twice a week at a civilized mid-morning hour.
My newly-created erratic schedule therefore entailed early mornings: British Airways flight from London – 4am. Lufthansa flight from Frankfurt – midnight. Airport departures - 6am. Sleep – priceless.
I invariable negotiated jobs with our office-based scheduler: “I’ve got a 4am arrival, so may as well do the 6am departure – seeing as it’s from the same hotel.” It’s common sense, really.
During the summer, Athens airport operated 24/7 and I occasionally did an all-nighter (something I hadn’t done since my college days): a midnight group arrival, followed by 4am arrival and 6am departure.
I’d come home to sleep just as my landlady left for work.
“Out on the town, eh?” she’d smirk.
“More like, out at the airport.”
Three early morning insights
# 1. 3.30am, on a major thoroughfare in downtown Athens.
“Kalimera, ladies. Good morning.”
“Yia sou Otsuka. Hello. Going to the airport again?”
A Japanese colleague chatted leisurely with the local ladies of the night as she waited for her bus driver to arrive.
They were on first name terms and kept each other company until Otsuka was safely on the bus.
# 2. 5am, heading into Athens from the airport:
“Is there an accident?” my Japanese passengers asked, as our coach stopped in bumper-to-bumper traffic, with hundreds of pedestrians milling about on the streets.
“No,” I replied. “Everyone’s on their way home from the nightclubs.”
Actually, most of them were on their way to work. (It was normal practice for Greeks to head straight to work after partying all night).
I simply didn’t have the stamina.
# 3. 6am, leaving the hotel for the airport:
“Is that a woman?”
My sleepy Japanese passengers nudged each other awake, peering at the figure loitering on the street corner.
“Nah, definitely a bloke,” I advised them.
They stared unashamedly out the window, some taking photos, until the figure disappeared from view.
I would never have experienced these local insights during daylight hours - but I’m still not a morning person.
Permanent night shift
My preference for late nights started when I was born at 3.10am.
I’ve never really enjoyed early mornings and it takes me a while to ease into the day.
By ‘ease’ I mean I’m not the kind of person who can jump out of bed and head out the door in 20 minutes. I end up feeling frazzled and disorganized all day.
I prefer a languid start to my mornings: a stretch out on the deck, followed by Tai Chi or yoga, a leisurely breakfast, shower, and much dawdling in between.
Give me an hour or two and I might be ready for action.
One of my best working arrangements was as a sub-editor on a country newspaper doing an 11am-7pm shift for two years. Perfect timing!
I simply work better in the afternoons and evenings. My head’s clearer. I’m more focused. The house is still.
Since relocating to the Sunshine Coast in Queensland almost three years ago, my biorhythms have settled into permanent night shift – in stark contrast to the predominantly early risers who live here.
Of course, they’re all in bed hours before I consider retiring for the evening.
I have occasionally made an appearance at early appointments, but avoid them where possible.
Just this morning I received an amusing email requesting committee members arrive at an upcoming Toastmasters conference by 7am.
“You’ll be lucky if I make it there by 8am!” I responded promptly. “Seriously, I’m not a morning person.”
Are you are morning person or night person?
Do you prefer sunrises or sunsets?
Postscript: Apart from work commitments, I have, on some occasions voluntarily attended 6am yoga sessions and for many years swam laps at the pool before work. But that's all in the past.
26/10/2011 05:04:48 am
Lately, I've become a morning and a night person. I used to hate getting up early, but now often wake at 4 or 5 am and I am often still up at 12am. Not sure what's happening to my sleep patterns.
26/10/2011 05:19:09 am
Madonna, that's a challenging combination! How are you surviving on little sleep? I don't last more than a couple of days with a late night/early morning combination.
26/10/2011 02:57:36 pm
Hari - I'm a morning person ... usually up early - and like to take things slowly and luxuriate in the peace and tranquility. That's all changed now (the peaceful and tranquil mornings, that is) with the advent of 'Hughie' (our guide dog puppy) in our lives. He is full of energy and bouncing from wall to wall before we can get the kettle on. Still up early - just not so tranquil!
26/10/2011 03:04:49 pm
Heather, that's way too much activity for the start of the day! But I guess Hughie is just the kind of pet to get away with it.
28/10/2011 07:50:14 am
Darling you would so love Victoria. When I first went to Melbourne, I rocked up to go shopping in the city at 9am Saturday, you know get an early start and all that...and nothing was open till 10am, and the streets were deserted. It grew on me. I became a midnight person. But now the old Queenslander in me is making a resurgence. And I wake with the sun.
28/10/2011 08:24:51 am
Ilyhana, I don't mind other people going to the shops early - it disperses the crowd numbers, so not everyone is out shopping at 10am. As long as the shops are also open late, then us midnight people can benefit from later trading hours.
8/11/2011 11:03:25 am
Hari, last week when we were at Rainbow Beach in our A van , I became a morning person and loved it I was up with the sun streaming into the van so on the beach at 5.00am Walking on the beach for up to 2 hours was magic for me
9/11/2011 02:32:52 am
Coral, that sounds magical indeed! It's a great way to start the day when you're camping by the beach. Even I'd be tempted to get up early in that kind of environment.
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© 2023 HARI KOTROTSIOS
I acknowledge the traditional Custodians of the land on which I work and live, the Gubbi Gubbi / Kabi Kabi and Joondoburri people, and recognise their continuing connection to land, the waters and sky. I pay my respect to them and their cultures; and to Elders past, present and emerging.