I've lost much of my faith in the New York Times, the motto of which seems to have evolved from "All the news that's fit to print" (first generations) to "All the news that fits, we print" (my generation) to "All the news we think you're fit to hear" (now). Still, I think they might have gotten something right in this recent article: Morning Person? You Might Have Neanderthal Genes to Thank. If you find that behind a pay wall, here's the relevant part:

Neanderthals were morning people, a new study suggests. And some humans today who like getting up early might credit genes they inherited from their Neanderthal ancestors. The new study compared DNA in living humans with genetic material retrieved from Neanderthal fossils. It turns out that Neanderthals carried some of the same clock-related genetic variants as do people who report being early risers.

I'm not surprised. Supposedly, I have more Neanderthal genes than 91% of all those who have been tested by the popular 23andMe system. And I'm definitely a morning person. I generally wake up naturally between 4:00 and 5:30 a.m. bright-eyed-and-bushy-tailed. "Sleeping in" means sleeping till 7; that's rare, and generally doesn't happen unless I'm sick ir out of town.  I'm not sure why the latter changes my sleep patterns; I'm sure it's part the change in daylight hours, and in part that my routines have been interrupted. In any case, I do my best work in the morning, and unless I'm hot-and-heavy into some interesting work, I'm pretty much useless after 9 p.m.

The odd thing is that I didn't discover my morning-personhood until later in life. Clearly environment has a strong effect. My parents were much more night owls than I am, routinely staying up past 11 p.m., which influenced my own bedtime. And a life ruled by prime-time TV hours (8 p.m. to 11 p.m.) and morning alarm clocks (school or jobs) is automatically a life of disrupted circadian rhythms.

It was our children who introduced me to the joys of the early morning hours. I didn't realize it so much at the time, as they also introduced me to the phenomenon of chronic sleep deprivation. I was getting up early, but also staying up late. As every parent knows, when you have children, that slice of time we like to call "our own" diminishes drastically. Our kids may have been in bed by eight o'clock, but I habitually stayed up until 11 simply because it was the only time I could do any kind of concentrated work. Not that you could call it quality time for the way my brain works, but I tried.

Thank you, dear Neanderthal ancestors, for giving me the genes to enjoy God's beautiful mornings. It's great to finally be in a position where I can take advantage of them. I could insert here a rant against Daylight Saving Time here, but you already know how I feel about that!

Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, March 15, 2024 at 10:24 am | Edit
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I'm glad you didn't discover this pattern earlier in life - we would never have survived as roommates if you had been getting up at 4 or 5.

Posted by Kathy Lewis on Friday, March 15, 2024 at 1:34 pm
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