It’s the circadian of life

“Good morning, sunshine,” he said, his smile quickly disappearing in the face of her murderous glance when she raised her face to look at him. “Shut up and die, morning person. Coffee,” she mumbled.” —Alanea Alder

On good mornings, I am up early. Early to some, anyway, and really early to others. I don’t know how it works for most people but in my case, with age comes the need for more early morning time.

Outside of holding out for an occasional Jimmy Fallon monologue, any hint of a functional night owl in me flew off a long time ago.

A lot of world problems can be solved between 5:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. In direct contrast to irritating 2 a.m. wakeups turned anxiety-ridden stretches (these happen to everyone, right?), I feel a little like Wonder Woman in the early hours.

If resolution or clarity are to be a part of my day, they will appear during this part of it. If I could bottle it, I would. I would pull it out around 10 a.m. Then again at around 3 p.m. And maybe once more at 10:45 p.m. On because sometimes Fallon doesn’t write his thank-you notes early enough.

I truly wish I could manufacture it, because not unlike the anxiety that dissipates once morning comes, the Wonder Woman thinking of 6 a.m. can dissipate too. I have to take what I can get.

There’s a thing, I recently learned, called a circadian rhythm, a sort of biological clock that determines a body’s natural cycles of sleep, awake, productivity, hunger and probably uselessness.

If we pay attention and follow it, we’ll get more done, feel more awake, and I’m guessing avoid some 2 a.m. anxiety moments. Maybe. As “natural” as it might be, I have no doubt that external clocks contribute their own effect.

For me, I savor my graduation to a current phase of fairly solid sleep schedules, those sleepless infant and toddler years a thing of the long ago past. That external clock has been smashed. That never fails to make me giddy.

Of course, there is always another level to balance when you share a house with kids of any age, but again, I’ll take what I can get.

Reading up on these circadian rhythms, I thought it was a little ironic that in nearly everything I read on them, the hours between 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. were biologically and scientifically the least productive across the board. Half of a regular work day? That can’t be good for business.

Infants may have to learn how to separate our world’s day from its night, but they’re not the only ones. Apparently teenagers aren’t completely to blame for their screwed up rhythms. It’s nature’s way.

Sleepfoundation.org said, “The shift in teens’ circadian rhythm causes them to naturally feel more alert later at night, making it difficult to fall asleep before 11 p.m.”

This fact alone clears up a lot for me. If I think really hard, I can remember sleeping until noon as a teen. So with science backing my personal memories, I’ll try to withhold judgment on those I know who do the same.

Some nights I wish I could be more of a night owl, but at least for now, those days have passed. Maybe we all come “full circadian” throughout our lives and eventually our internal clocks end up where they started.

Until then, it’s going to have to be about doing what works for the individual. I’m convinced that earlier is better. Coffee is involved, so there’s that. And Fallon’s thank-you notes will wait for me on YouTube.

Shelley Plett is a graphic designer for the Free Press and Kansas Publishing Ven­tures. She can be reached at shelley@hillsborofree­press.com.