Saturday, 28 April 2007

Are you a genetic mutant?

The Telegraph ask, "Do you have the after-hours gene?" in response to this story, "Gene explains why people are night owls". Left to it's own devices, which mostly it is, my body clock is mostly nocturnal. I was never good at getting up in the morning, even when I was a child. Not being able to get me up infuriated my mother and caused friction, but this wasn't my fault.
Steve comments, "I've been able to make my own hours for several years now. Often I will work through the night and go to sleep at 7 or 8 am for 6-7 hours. I'm either a night-owl or a vampire, I'm not yet certain."
Yep, that would be me too, which is great, because I can drift off to sleep easily in the early morning after watching some crappy Argentinian soap opera that's been consigned to the "graveyard shift", or Bob the Builder that's been scheduled for the early morning brats, neither of which require much concentration and are certainly more sleep inducing than the violence and horror they put on TV for adults at night.

In summer here night time is the only time when it's cool enough to think to be able to work efficiently and I concentrate much better in the quiet, when I know that nobody is going to disturb me.

Trying to conform to a normal day job used to be torture.

I'd have loved to have been able to claim a medical condition to explain my inability to arrive on time, which merely had me labelled as lazy.

My schedule still makes life difficult when, occasionally, I have to go somewhere and rejoin the "normal world." Trying to conform stresses me. Alarm clocks give me the jitters so I spend all day feeling like I've just had a mild shock, so I avoid them as much as possible.

One of the main reasons that life suits me at this latitude though is the almost equal length of days between winter and summer, because it doesn't matter if I do get up and see it or not, when faced with months without much of a glimpse of the sun further up the hemisphere, that does have a negative effect on my state of mental health. So, the report's findings look feasible to me, but also worrying.
One commenter, Steve Murphy MD, Clinical Genetics Fellow at Yale University, points out that all the study explains is "why mice may have altered sleep wake cycles". He also states in his blog post on the article, that the studies were carried out "in conjunction with Merck". Now, I guess science costs money and it's highly unlikely that any gets done without someone sponsoring it, but just 'spose they do prove that this "mutant gene" exists?

Will we "night owls" be considered as abnormal and expected to take the cure or, as another commenter suggests, "have us waking around with lobotomy scars on our heads because we did not conform to the statistical norms."

I've always liked being different. I thrive on it. I couldn't deal with "normality", mediocrity, boredom, monotony, conformity. I don't think society could either, but I bet too that it'll be hell bent on trying.

Gene explains why people are night owls

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