For the last couple weeks (I know this because I documented it in my Twitter stream), I've been waking up at 5 a.m. Completely wide awake. At first, I figured this was just jet lag-- my body had no idea what time it was, so why not get up at 2 p.m. Central European Time, or 8 p.m. Singaporean time?-- but it's gone on too long to be just a blip.
It seems that I've become a morning person. And I'm completely mystified by it. I've always been the sort of person who woke up grudgingly at best, who wasn't even really conscious until the second cup of coffee. Ever since I finished my Ph.D. qualifying exams, I've loved sleep-- not just the rest, which I'd always appreciated, but the physicality of it-- of being under the blankets, of lying down, and all the rest.
So what's going on? What can prompt such a sudden, and apparently thorough, behavioral change? Nobody seems to really know, which isn't surprising, given how much we still have to learn about sleep. It's clear that everyone needs it, and that our need for sleep and ability to do it both change over time (not always in sync-- something that can lead to serious problems).
This shift may be coming early: according to a 1962 British article on changes in sleep patterns, "In general the sleep pattern of the female tends to change earlier than that of the male, usually during middle age. The change in the male sleep pattern with age is not only less marked but tends to be fully established later—some time after the retiral age of 65 years." On the other hand, it may not: more recent studies have argued that middle age is when the biggest changes occur, and that substantial changes in sleep habits can happen among people in their 20s and 30s.
Anyway, so long as it happens, and the kids aren't also getting up incredibly early too, I figure the smart thing to do is just roll with it, and try to use the time productively.
Off to pour another cup of tea, and work on an essay on the future of futures work. Maybe in this dark quiet, I can get a draft of it finished.