Thursday, January 3, 2013

Sleep & Introversion

First: I am an introvert.

Pretty much every psychological personality model includes this (or its counterpart, the extrovert) concept. Of course, despite the fact that most people think in black and white, either or situations, I don't lack extroverted features and sometimes seem void of the exterior indicators of introversion; I'm not always reserved or quiet, sometimes I'm quite talkative and energetic. In this sense, I tend to agree with the Myers Briggs Type Indicator 'philosophy'  (I've been told this is also Jung's approach) that personality traits work like genetics versus a spectrum. While we have the coding for both "types" of behaviors, one is more dominant than the other. (In some cases, like my MBTI, two aspects can be very close to equal in dominance - for me, I am an INFP, but sometimes I am an INFJ. P/J often score within a point of one another and circumstances determine which has the upper hand.)

Introversion according to Merriam-Webster:  "the state of or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life". While I typically love language, I don't like this definition. I care about a LOT of things that have nothing to do with my "own mental life" but that still live amiably with my nature as an introvert. Maybe I'm splitting hairs. I'm not particularly up to challenging Merriam-Webster at the moment, in any case.

All of this, however, is early morning rambling that doesn't relate directly to my topic except in a background sort of way. I should also be honest and say that it is nearly 2:30pm and nowhere near "early morning" in the way most people understand it.

Second: I am a night owl.

Given the opportunity, my sleeping pattern shifts drastically and "naturally" to a pattern that would most often have me sleeping somewhere between 4am and 2pm. Science will argue that this is not a natural sleeping rhythm, that perhaps I have a sleeping disorder. Parents and other "adults" would and have argued that I just need to "train" myself to sleep during "normal" hours and that before I know it, I'll be sleeping in those times and won't think anything of it. And, of course, there's the blame - that this sleeping pattern isn't normal, even for me, and that I ruin it on my own by indulging in bad behaviors.

I don't accept the "blame", but I do accept the responsibility.

I am a night owl due in part to the fact that I am also an introvert.

The daytime, when the world is full of sunlight and businesses are open, is full of noise. It's not even just audible noise - it's a buzz somewhere beyond hearing. It's life and busy-bodies and rushing and doing-things. That buzz creates real noise, too. People moving around overhead, on the sides, outside, inside, laundry, dishes, running water, televisions, computers, YouTube videos, the Disney channel, keyboards, telephones, voice chats, yelled conversations from one endpoint of the house to the other, cars, horns, music, traffic...

"That's one thing I hate! All the noise, noise, noise, noise!" (I love you, Mr. Grinch.)

At night, the world goes to sleep. For the most part, televisions are turned off, cars are parked, people are sleeping instead of talking, no one is doing chores, taking showers, washing laundry, running dishwashers... At night, it is as though everyone's left the pool, they turned on the heating coils and FINALLY I can relax. Sometimes this is disrupted if I choose to play around in an MMOG, but that's a risk I can choose to take or not.

Night is comfortable and quiet and decidedly uncrowded. It's when I can hear myself think, when I can unwind enough and even my anxieties slink off into a corner and rest. The only worry that bothers me? "What will other people think when I "sleep in"?"  And even that worry has been muted by years as an adult and reasoning - If I'm only sleeping 8-10 hours, I'm not exactly wasting any more of the day than someone who sleeps that long during "NORMAL" hours.  (With my thyroid issues, I struggle with fatigue, so 9  hours is fairly ideal for me.)

The idea has eluded me for years. I could never figure out why everyone would tell me that my inclination toward sleeping during the day and being awake at night was wrong, abnormal, broken, and why it felt the very opposite of those descriptions. It wasn't until this morning, when I put down the book I'd been reading (Hellbent, by Cherie Priest - enjoyed the first, enjoying this one, want more) and wondered why I wasn't yet tired at 3:20am that I put it together.

The world is a busy, messy place, and the only time I can actually drop my awareness of the rest of the world is when the rest of the world is no longer a press or a threat to my psychic space. (Maybe we can talk more about that another time - but yes, people who are awake and have access to my personal space are perceived as potential threats, or presses for attention of some sort. This keeps me in an alert state in which I cannot do things like read.)

Resetting this sleep pattern to accommodate work and school is going to be a little unpleasant, but there's no reason not to enjoy the serenity while it's available.

Maybe later I'll also talk about why there wasn't a New Year's Eve post, or even a Christmas post.
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