0

Confessions of a recovering night owl - Jason Smith

I've been a night owl for as long as I can remember.

Until a few years ago, I maintained a regular practice of staying awake as long as I could, and sleeping the day away.

Even when I was in high school, and had to be up early every morning, I would still watch television until the wee hours of the morning.

I think I get my nocturnal tendencies from my mother, who has always been a night owl as well. When I was a kid, she and I had a routine which fed into my night-owlish ways.

She and I would stay up together for hours, watching various television programs she had taped on her VCR, until she looked at the clock and saw what time it was. My mom would then remind me that my dad -- who worked nights at the time, and typically arrived home at 3:15 a.m. -- would be mad if he saw I was still awake.

I'd run up the stairs, jump into bed and listen for the front door to open. When he walked up the stairs to my room to check on me, I'd stay as still as I could, so he wouldn't know I was awake.

To this day, I'm convinced he knew all along, but only let me know it on rare occasions.

This routine continued for years, even during the months when school was in session. It was commonplace for me to watch the sun come up in the summer, before I went to bed.

I think, in retrospect, I was trying to impress people with how late I was able to stay awake. It could even be seen as a form of rebellion in some ways.

Looking back now, I know it was ridiculous, but I guess I just wanted to be my own person and call my own shots.

Now, of course, times have changed. With age comes added responsibilities, and if I don't get enough rest, I'm useless.

I have to be up early on weekdays for work, and on Sundays for church. On most Saturdays, as of late, my wife and I have errands to run, which we cannot do during the week because of our respective schedules.

Most days, I still probably go to bed a little later than I should, but it's not nearly as bad as it used to be. Whenever I try to stay up to watch a movie or TV show with my wife, I often fall asleep halfway through it, because my body has become accustomed to the schedule of a normal person.

She gets understandably irritated when I wake up on the sofa, and ask her to rewind the program so I can see what I missed. After doing this for a couple of times, I ask her not to erase the recording as I drag myself to bed.

I make a valiant effort to stay awake on Friday nights, just because I can. Still, when I get home from feeding my karaoke obsession on those nights, I am usually reminded of how tired I really am, just as I collapse into bed.

I've even found myself, in the last couple of weeks, waking up before my alarm goes off. I usually stay in bed until I hear the alarm, though, just as a matter of principle.

Sometimes, I still long for the days when I had the freedom to stay awake as long as I wanted to, and to wake up when I felt like it. In those moments, I remember how much trouble I would get into as a child, on those rare occasions when my dad chastised me for not going to bed.

And I'm glad my night-owl days are largely behind me.

Then, of course, I look at the clock and realize I have to be up early for work.

Jason A. Smith covers crime and courts for the Henry Daily Herald. He can be reached via e-mail at jsmith@henryherald.com.