Vampirism and Chronotypes
If one thing about vampires seems to be fact in both mythological sources and every day life, it would be that vampires are nocturnal. Mythology describes vampires as burning to ashes in the sunlight and sleeping from dawn until dusk. Many Sanguinarians besides reporting of having trouble with the sun also admit that they are nocturnal by tendency.
Now, the term “nocturnal” can be interpreted in different ways. Some people use it in order to describe that they like the night better than the day. This is often reported by people who are fascinated with dark romanticism. Some people, however, go so far as to describe themselves as having troubles to get up in the morning, being more mentally and physical fit during the evening, having inverse sleep cycles. Years ago, everybody still considered these people as either off the track or maybe deluding themselves.
There’s good news ahead. In 2006, it had been scientifically proven that there are tangible genetically influenced chronotypes. Which means: your genes tell you whether you are nocturnal or diurnal. This again translates to: there is such a thing as a genetic precondition for a nocturnal tendency. If you are not sure about yourself, try this test for a start:
Although the human species itself is by nature diurnal, each individual has an internal clock which influences our everyday life. It determines when we prefer to wake up, how fast we get started, when we tend to go to sleep, how long we sleep, etc. This rhythm in our life covering an average of 24 hours is called the circadian rhythm. It is, so to speak, our internal pacemaker. People, who tend to be nocturnal, are called “owls” while morning-persons are called “larks”.
In the article “Individual Variation and the Genetics of Sleep”, the influence of the circadian rhythm is explained:
Although our internal clock is set to approximately 24 hours, the exact timing of circadian rhythms varies from one person to the next. Differences in the speed of the circadian clock may help determine whether you are an "owl' or a "lark." For instance, there is some evidence that if your circadian clock runs faster than 24 hours, you may tend to be a "lark"; if your clock runs slower than 24 hours, you tend to be an "owl."
This paragraph describes how science may be able to help you determine whether you are an owl or a lark. There are genetic tests which examine the recovery cycle of human cells. If the recovery cycle indicates that your circadian rhythm is longer than 24 hours, you are likely to be an “owl”. Such a prolonged cycle can be as long as 26 hours, for instance. All that is needed is a few skin cells.
While the vast majority of people is indifferent, meaning having no sleep preferences beyond the average, there are also some people who have moderately different preferences. They tend to be moderate “larks” or “owls”, who are up to two hours off the track from the average. But there are also people which have more extreme preferences for their schedules. While some extreme “larks” automatically wake up before dawn, extreme “owls” may be real midnight-oil-burners.
“Owls” and their characteristica
Let’s now concentrate on the “owls”. They all share some of the following conditions. The more these conditions affect their daily life, the less they feel well when being forced into a different schedule.
A typical “owl”
- wakes up after several alert signals
- needs to rush to work in the morning
- misses appointments more easily without using helpers (agendas, alarms)
- feels dizzy for a long time in the early morning
- consumes typically more caffeine during the day
- skips breakfast but enjoys later snacks in the evening
- wakes up much later than usual when they have no commitments (holidays, weekends etc.)
- works better in night shifts but is less comfortable working changing shifts
- adapts easier to changing time zones
- nonetheless feels jetlagged when being off his typical schedule
- feels most productive in the late morning or late evening
- takes longer naps in between and tends to fall asleep during the day when having the chance to rest
- needs a long time to really feel awake in the morning
- is among the last to get home from any event
Another remarkable fact about “owls” is that some (not quite all of them) are able to make up lost sleep. Most people including “larks” cannot sleep over their regular schedule. Some owls are able to nap hours beyond their usual time and therefore make up the sleep they lose during the week. So if you know someone who sleeps way into the afternoon after a rough weekend, chances are, he is nocturnal by nature.
No cure for the itch, but some tricks
Being an extreme “owl” is no medical condition that could or even should be treated, but it can make one’s life harder when being forced to work on a different schedule. There are a few things, however, that might help adjust to average schedules when not being able to choose a job that supports an “owlish” lifestyle.
1. Whatever you can prepare for the next day, do it the night before. Choosing the clothes, preparing breakfast and snacks for work, anything that consumes time in the morning or that is easily forgotten.
2. Use an alarm clock that can be preset for several alerts. If you don’t have it, use the snooze button of your alarm clock. Start the alarms approximately half an hour before the actual time you need to get up.
3. As soon as you are up, get a good dosage of sunlight and fresh air. If you react to sunlight, try bright artifical light. Best would be a quality close to daylight intensity (like the ones used in winter depression therapy).
4. Sleep with curtains or blinds open when you need to wake up in the early morning. If you have electric blinds, adjust them towards your alarm time. When you do not have to wake up at a certain time, close curtains tightly.
Experiences with the Nightside
I myself have noticed fairly early that I seem to be an “owl”. This behaviour led me to pick my first full-time job as full night shift. Having changed jobs in between I must say that night shift felt most natural for me, and if I had to choose again, I would always prefer night shift to day shift again. Also, I have heard many sanguinarians report that they are nocturnal by tendency and prefer a lifestyle supporting their natural sleeping habits.
I have made the experience in the past that people called me crazy for my strange schedules. Many people believed that I just desperately wanted to believe that I am nocturnal for image reasons (an image which back then I did not even felt attracted to). Also, people believed that I was just chronically lazy, which was not true after all, because when I was not working well in the morning, I had to make up for everything in the afternoons and evenings. This means same work in less time.
Fact is, “owls” are neither sick nor lazy nor unmotivated. Many of them can learn to adjust to a normal schedule with a few tricks, but for that, they need to know about their condition. There are a number of tests that can be done, from simple questionnaires to dermatological tests in order to find out where one belongs. However, not everyone can adjust perfectly. Extreme nocturnals will have the worst problems. While there have always been jobs for extreme diurnals, jobs for extreme nocturnals have always been somewhat located on the edge of the normal society.
This has somewhat changed over the years, and by now, it has become possible for everyone to find a job that suits their habits a little more easily. Even when jobs themselves are rare, nowadays there is generally still a higher portion of available jobs that cater a nocturnal lifestyle. This, however, is in the first place a solution for unmarried folks who have all chances to pick and chose without having to care about people who are dependent on interacting with them. Families with mixed sleeping habits will still have problems to deal with. For this case, I can only suggesting trying to find out about possibly solutions together, since everyone has to feel comfortable with the situation.
I have come to the conclusion that among sanguinarians, there is a measurable higher amount of people who are nocturnal. The good news is: Being nocturnal AND a vampire does not mean you are desperate about your image or closer towards being a wannabe than towards being a real sang. There might be a real correlation at best; at worst it does not exclude each other. “Owlishness” as a determinable genetic condition exists. The bad news is: if the correlation is real, we are trapped in another stereotype again. Oh well.