Skip to main content

Not a morning person

What happens when an early riser no longer has to get up?

View from Portobello beach, Edinburgh as the sun rises

Chances of me seeing this view any time soon? Zero.

Thank you for subscribing to The Shift. If you're already a paying member, thank you. Your support makes this newsletter and The Shift podcast possible. Paying members get weekly newsletters, culture round-ups, access to the community and the full archive, and more. All for less than the price of a (large) coffee a month.

I used to be a morning person. Actually, let me rephrase that. I used to be a person who got up really early every weekday morning. It is, it turns out, very much not the same thing.

The alarm would go off at 6.30am, at the latest, Monday-Friday. And, without fail, without even thinking, (without really even waking!), I would stumble out of bed and into the bathroom, where I would wash, dress in the uniform I’d devised to avoid losing 30 minutes every morning trying and failing to decide what to wear, slap on cursory makeup (praise be for hair that renders brushing pointless) and go. I usually allowed 30 minutes but on a good day I could do bed-to-back-door (the door closest to the station) in under 20. If I speed-walked I might make the 7.05am train to London. Otherwise the 7.18 (and zero chance of a seat) would have to do. Armed with a black coffee as big as my head and a pile of the day’s newspapers – until those were replaced by patchy Wi-Fi and a smartphone – I would usually have come up with a roster of ideas for that day’s stories by the time the trained pulled into Waterloo. On those “good” ie 7.05 days (see how I’ve already adopted the language of right and wrong, good and bad, worthy and not?) I would be at my desk by 8.30, which bought me an hour of “quiet time” to actually do some work before the rest of the office descended. At the end of the day, if there weren’t any compulsory events (which for most of my professional life there were), I’d be on a train home by 7.30pm latest and walk back through the door around 8.30/9pm, ready to do it all again the next day. I thought nothing of being out of the house 13-14 hours a day. I thought nothing of spending four hours a day commuting. I thought nothing of getting six hours sleep a night max. 

I’m not saying I enjoyed it, that it came even slightly naturally, or that I leapt out of bed with a spring in my step, itching to take on the day. Far from it. But, like many people, I did it. Monday to Friday for 30-odd years. 

Had you asked, I would have said I considered myself resolutely a morning person. (I never abused enough substances to claim any kind of night person status, but to this day I admire those who can pull an all-nighter and still be functioning next day. For me a late night is reading til gone midnight. Rock'n'roll.) I was, with hindsight, quite proud of my ability to rack up six hours work before noon. Being a morning person was a perverse kind of badge of honour.

To read this post you'll need to become a member of The Shift. Members help us fund our work to ensure we can stick around long-term.

join the shift (Opens in a new window)

Topic long reads