Most of my early life I was a born night owl. It might have started when I was a child and sat up late listening to baseball games on the radio with my grandmother. (It wasn't that long ago children, she just didn't have a TV in her room.) When I was in high school I was a late night last minute crammer and finisher of school projects so I still was staying up late. When I went to college and started doing theatre I was perfectly equipped for late night set construction calls and overtime rehearsals.
Then after college I became a 911 operator. When I learned I would initially be on night shift I wasn't too worried. Was I not a "born night owl"? Well I learned there was a limit to my staying up all night abilities, and that limit was right around 3am.
For 3 years I struggled on midnights with the wee hours of the morning between 4am and 6am. In dispatch these are especially hard hours because generally the bars have closed, the drunks have gone to bed, and not much is going on, therefore the phones don't ring much.
After five years of midnights and other odd shifts I made it to day shift. At last a normal life! Almost. You see, our day shift starts at 7am. When I first started day shift I had a small child accompanied by the usual sleep deprivation, so I rolled out of bed at the latest possible moment, tossed back a cup of coffee on the way to the shower, and stumbled out the door. I learned this strategy didn't work, especially when one is not a morning person.
Now I set my alarm for 4am. And 4:15 am. And a more insistent alarm at 4:30 which is usually when I actually get up. My coffee pot is on a timer so it's ready when I get up. I ingest several cups while watching last night's Daily Show and Colbert. I have plenty of time to do this, shower, and still get out the door in time for my bus at 6am.
So now I have become an Early Bird. Even on a day off I can't usually sleep past 7am. I almost always wake at 4 and tell myself to go back to sleep. Day shift allows me to live like an almost normal life, and to see my children when they get home from school.
But I don't like it. I feel like its a violation of the natural order of things to be getting up at 4am instead of crawling into bed.
In a few more years I will be able to retire. No more schedules to abide by, It will be interesting to see if I remain a Early Bird or revert to Night Owl.
Or maybe somewhere in between.