The A-Team and the B-Team

I have always suspected that people who are happy to go to bed early and get up at the crack of dawn are weirdos. And now the latest research backs me up, and I couldn’t be smugger.


There are, when it comes to sleeping patterns, three types of humans: A-people, B-people and then a whole bunch of losers that we will refer to as “normal” people, and are not that interesting really. Well sorry, but you’re just not.

The A-people like nothing better than putting on their jim-jams, sipping a warm beverage and climbing into bed at 9:15 or so. They sleep log-like until their shrill little alarm clocks ring at 6:30 and up they hop, fresh as a fucking daisy and eat their porridge with a wink and a nod and a big shit-eating grin.

A-people make me sick.

Then there are the B-people. Like me. B-people are physically incapable of going to sleep early. 12 is manageable, but pushing it. If a B-person is forced to bed at 10 (usually by a well-meaning A-person), they will turn and squirm and stare into the darkness for an hour or two. And if, my some miracle, they do manage to go to sleep at all then they will only wake up at midnight and be stone cold alert until the birdies cheep and grey dawn glows cruelly at the window several hours later.

This part is hard to explain to A people – it’s not that we choose to stay up late, we are actually physically incapable of sleeping early. We-can’t-do-it and no amount of sheep-counting, oral pleasuring, herbal tea or new-age dirge will change that. I am at my most alert in the evening, and sleep is the last thing my body wants.

I am a B-person. If left to myself, I will adopt a cycle of going to bed at 1 or 2 in the morning and waking up at 9. It doesn’t take a genius to notice that this does not fit in with any aspect of modern life: not with work, nor babies, nor schools, nor anything else. If a B-person is to function in the modern world, they are forced to almost always be tired.

The research says that B-people comprise 15-25% of the population, A-people 10-15% and normals the rest. But, for some reason, the world is designed and run for the A-people. In Sweden, it is particularly bad, with schools starting before 8:30 in the morning, even for 6-year-olds. And when the long, cold dark winter moves in, it is close to torture as we are forced to get up and stumble out the door when it is totally dark outside.

I suspect the world is designed this way because the fucking A-people scheduled all the meetings for 7:30 and were therefore the only ones awake and paying attention. The B’s, meanwhile, just sat there at the meeting table, unshaven and sipping coffee, and did not raise their hands at the right moment due to being largely unconscious.

And then I start to wonder – why should we all have the same cycles? Why in the world must everybody go to work at the same time, requiring more roads and trains to be built for a few hours of frantic rush-hour every day? Why must every idiot stand in line in my local deli at lunch time? Why do schools all open at the crack of dawn?

Why are the fucking A-people still running the show?!?

Something needs to be done, and luckily some brave B-people are doing something (although mostly in the evening). We have the noble Danish society, B-samfundet, also available in Sweden, who are fighting for the rights of the terminally tired. Also we have the same group again in an English-language version.

May these tireless fighters break the iron grip of the smug getting-uppers and allow us all, for the first time ever, to get a good night’s sleep. And maybe, while they’re at it, they can get something decent on the telly at 3 in the morning that isn’t Magnum PI.

Some newspaper articles on this topic (in Swedish) can be found here and here.

/ paddy (B to the bone)

64 thoughts on “The A-Team and the B-Team

  1. After years — decades! — of submitting to A-person tyranny, I quit my job and started my own company. I do not start work until 12:00 noon at the earliest, and sometimes I don’t knock off until midnight or later. I get more work done with less stress; I take more pleasure in the intervals for dinner, a late snack, and walking the dogs several time a day/evening; and I sleep like a rock from around 3:00 am until 11:00 am. My business associates and clients are instructed that I am not available before noon so don’t even bother to call me in the morning: It won’t be answered.

  2. I’m an emphatically A person which I only discovered when I lived in Sweden and had a job which required me to start at 6.30 am and thus wake up at about 5.20. By 3 pm I am a stupid wreck. But I was working with a total B earlier this year, a woman who, left to herself, does not wake before noon, and works until two every morning. The really odd thing was that we had to spend a week in the states, where jetlag brought us back into coincidence, more or less. But it was a real problem, and all our most productive interchanges were asychronous.

  3. Owls and Larks they used to be called.

    I suspect that I’m “normal” with Larkish tendencies. I hate Hate HATE being rushed in the morning and hate Hate HATE being woken up suddenly by an aggressive alarm clock. Thus to wake up in time to potter around the house, have a cup of tea, read a few blogs, make my sarnies, have a pleasantly refreshing shower, I have to be in bed by 11.00 so that I can wake up naturally at 6.30 or so. The dangerous thing is that I get a second wind at about 12.30 and can carry on into the wee small hours but I’ll still wake up at 6.30 bleary, blurry and operating at about 63% capacity and most of that being dedicated to drinking tea and staring at things.

    Interesting stats.

    It’s always seemed to me that 24 hour operations like call-centres and hospitals should tap into the natural time-clocks of their employees and not faff around with forcing shifts on everyone.

    Bright eyed and relatively bushy tailed.

  4. I’ve been so messed around by kids, wives, jobs etc. that I don’t even know what my natural cycle is anymore. In student days I used to roll into bed stoned about midnight and fall out again about 11, but that was a long time ago in a galaxy far far away.

  5. Wow, a millions replies! Cool – I suspected that most bloggers would be B-people. Let’s take this 4 at a time:

    Alex: Please, plug me mercilessly!

    RBH: You are my hero. I am seriously considering doing the same thing.

    ramblingsofaculturefreak:Welcome to the club.

    Charlie: Indeed.

    acb: “Asychronous interchanges” – I like it!

  6. Aphra: Nice idea with the shift thing. Why hasn’t any company thought of this one?

    csrster: My favorite cycle was when I worked for a nightclub in 1994. I went to bed at 3 or 4 and woke at 12 or 1. That was nice.

  7. B I am, for sure, but I start work at 8 and have animals to take care of so I need to go up around 6. Advanced torture it is.
    Short time sleeping pills make me fit into the society but no one, absolutely no on, address me before 10!
    You have a very, very healthy blog my friend :)

  8. I am instinctively an A. That’s my natural pattern. I know it’s uncool but I have to own my A-ness. However my life at the moment demands I go to bed at B-time and rise at A-time, which makes me an under-rested and bloody crabby A-chick.

  9. charlotteotter: Boo and hiss to the A-people! However, if we ever need a diplomat we can send you over to them. And its nice to have you back!

  10. Both my parents are B-people and since I’m a B-people, it’s confirmed: It’s genetic and we just can’t help it! Vive la resistance! Embrace your sleeping beauty within. I’m convinced that melatonin has the opposite effect on me because the sun poops me out.

    I also want to say that I was in love with an A-person (more like an A-thing) for ten years before the relationship finally dissolved… possibly sometime around 4PM after my fourth cup of coffee. Yes, dammit, A-people are nuts and they ARE trying to take over the world! Hahaha. We’ve got to stop them.

    We can beat them at their own game! I have a plan. I want everyone to bang and clang trashcan lids at precisely 1 AM local time, all around the world every night until the A-people crack and these slavemasters finally relinquish control. Invite your B-people artist friends over and tell them to bring some booze (or pot) and possibly some spraypaint for this blessed trashcan-lid event. I think it would be just deserts for having to listen to those damn city workers jackhammering the sidewalk in the wee hours of noon while I’m trying to sleep, dammit! Hahaha.

  11. Glen: Good to know. And when I think about it, my parents, now retired farmers, go to bed at 1 or 2 and get up at 9:30. So I guess they are also B-people.

    I like your plan. Except I like having a few hours every day when the damned A-people are sleeping and not bothering me.

    And by the way, I see your blog has an anthropology angle. I am hosting the Four Stone Hearth carnival on September 26, and I need submissions. Can I link to one of your articles?

  12. As like RBH, I also found that the only sollution is to have your own company. It’s not totally without problems though: my colleague is an A-type person aparently. But most days I start working at 11, wich is okay, at least.

  13. Interesting… The plot thickens. Yeah, you’re right, Paddy. Maybe the plan needs tweaking. Though it seemed like a good excuse for a party.

    And nobody ever needs my permission to link to my articles. Have a blast. But frankly, I’m kind of frightened that people would want to because I can be such an anally boring jacka*s, hahaha. I’m definitely enjoying the Four Stone Hearth project, so it’s automatic that I’ll be linking to your contribution when it’s posted.

    Cheers, Paddy.
    P.S.: Yes, we need more B-people bosses in companies :)

  14. Glen: Great, I’ll pull out a couple and build some bizarre description around them. And I doubt that a B-person could ever be arsed to be a boss.

  15. My boss is a B-person! Lucky me. He’s never here once I get to work at 9-9:30 in the morning, and he praises me for working late at night since it’s all quiet here then and we really can get things done…
    The worst thing about A-people is that they tend to consider themselves better than us night-owls. It’s like they think we’re the only ones missing out of wake hours, when they in fact spend their lives sleeping away (missing out of) every evening of their lives…
    Oh, how I love sunsets! Beautiful. A-people should all move to Norrland, to find out.
    And we should keep the daylight saving all year round. Who needs daylight in the mornings in winter, give it to me in the afternoon instead. Please.

  16. Karin: Wow, a B-boss. Lucky you! And yes, the damned A-people think they’re in control and are being efficient. That’s just because they never see us working, because they are all asleep, the lazy bastards. And I love looking at the stars, which means staying up late is an advantage.

    “Give it to me in the afternoon”, eh..? Heh heh…you ARE really a B-person, aren’t you..?

    (PS glad to see that my blog isn’t blocked at your new job)

  17. Ha ha, it must have been due to your kinky picture.
    And I do usually wake up properly after lunch (lunch is at 12:30)
    Yeah, my new job is better in most ways… (good thing both our lives are improving, eh!).

  18. Karin: Well tits=hits, as we like to say in the blogging world. And life does seem to be improving. Still, if you have any single friends, you know where to send them..!

  19. I was a B-person. Until relatively recently. *sigh* I’m still a B-person, but my 18-month old has permanently set me on an A-schedule. Ah well, I think we’ll both do well when he turns 14 or so, and we can both sleep in.

  20. This is beautiful. I’m doing some research (at night, like any decent B-person) on Hugo Chávez’s latest project to change Venezuela’s time zone because of metabolical advantages or some crap like that, and some hard science on the true nature of circadian cycles could be very helpful.

    And I also discovered that I’m not a procrastinator, I’m just a B!

  21. Confirmed, irredeemable B-type here. Rarely in bed before 3am, rarely up before noon. Love the cool clear quiet thinking hours after midnight. As I have alway said about my preferred diurnal pattern: I like to see the sunrise and sunset, just not necessarily in that order.

    I have always thought that the up-at-the-crack-of-dawn crowd were plain nuts.

    An example: Someone I worked with years ago was the best computer systems analyst ever. He would arrive at work around early afternoon and stay until at least midnight. His reason was that he couldn’t get anything done during the day because he was always being pestered about trivial shit by the lazy and incompetent. Everyone, including all his immediate bosses, were very happy with the quality of his work, but the rule bound idiots in senior management refused to bend the rules, demanding that he keep the same hours as eveyone else. He resigned, went on contract work, determined his own hours and made a shitload more money. The computer system at his previous workplace never worked as well after he left, and ended up costing the company a lot of lost time, money, and productivity.

  22. Rotating Splunge: It was the same in my job – creative guy forced to leave because the fucking A-people wanted to see him, otherwise they didn’t believe he was working.

  23. Every word of this is true (says the man writing this at 1am, with no real intent of getting to bed before 3). There are also personality differences between As and Bs; the creative types are Bs, the administrative types are As, and we know who’ll inherit the Earth. I gloss madly, but you know it’s true…

    The Internet may be our big chance (an Internet, may I remind you, largely concocted by hacker geniuses who see less daylight than the denizens of medieval dungeons). While our local As are slumbering in their beds, we can make connections with the remote As in time zones to the west and combine our forces. By the time the locals are up and about, it’ll be too late – and we can wake to what will become known as the Bright New Afternoon Of Hope.

  24. I so love the Web!! Reading your post reminded me of a Mark Twain quote, and one quick search got it for me right away. Of course, when I get my own lark, she won’t have to get up anytime before 11.00 am. Ever. (These days my job requires I get up at 6.00 to get to work at 8.00. I am a major profit center for Maxwell House. Comes Friday night my brain flips right back to B-World.)

    Go to bed early, get up early–this is wise. Some authorities say get up with one thing, some with another. But a lark is really the best thing to get up with. It gives you a splendid reputation with everybody to know that you get up with the lark; and if you get the right kind of a lark, and work at him right, you can easily train him to get up at half-past nine, every time–it is no trick at all.
    – Advice to Youth speech, April 15, 1882

  25. Rupert: We just have to push the button, and the world is ours!

    ChicagoMolly: And I love that its called “Advice to Youth speech” – more advice like that, please..!

  26. Nice work, Paddy,

    I’ve now gotten to your blog from links from two different corners of the blogosphere. :)

  27. Stumbled along late, but just wanted to give a nod of appreciation for a nicely-written piece.

    But is there a C category? Or am I just some sort of extremofied B-person? My reliably-natural cycle, if left to my own devices for three days or so, is sleep at 3 or 4 am, wake up at noon.

    I definitely get all my best work done around now (it’s 3 am as I write this), when it’s nice and dark and cold and quiet.

    Right, a little bit more work, then off for a snooze!

  28. PJF: Thank you kindly, I live to serve!

    No, you sound like a B. B-cycles can easily include people who go to bed at dawn and get up at 2 in the afternoon. If you prefer to go to bed very late, and are most sharp in the evening/night then you are a B. Welcome to the club.

  29. I’m a… what? Let’s see, I generally go to bed sometime between 10 PM and 9:59 PM the next day, although occasionally, I don’t go to bed at all. I sleep anywhere between zero and sixteen hours each night, except sometimes its not at night at all. If I go to bed at 3 PM and wake up at 10 PM (and go to bed again at 6 AM, 32 hours later), then am I a “C” person? Or, if there are “A” people, “B” people, and “normal” people, then I guess I’m a “weird” person.

  30. Actually B people are fabulous in the morning, as long as the A people can work out how to stimulate them.

    But they can’t because they are boring. The early bird catches the worm, but if that is your main goal in life, you are not going to be a source of joy to the rest of us.

  31. david tiley: But you WILL have lots of worms. So you can make worm soup. Or whatever it is people need worms for. Fishing, maybe..?

    Anyway, that bird who caught the worm wasn’t up early – he was just coming home from the night before.

  32. Great post! I am most certainly a B person. Here in Dallas, Texas, USA life is pretty 24 hour friendly. I work evening shift at a steak house and do not have to be at work until 4pm at the earliest. When I get off around midnight, it is like noon as far as I am concerned! Things are still open and I have a whole group of weirdos to chill with who start hanging out around 10pm or so. The schedule works fine for me and I have plenty of time to do as I please. B-Team for life! Thanks.

  33. William: Oh man, you should try Stockholm, the Planet of the A-people. Nothing open after 4, it feels like. Except 7-11s, may they rot in hell.

    If we get some cash together we can make our own city. B-topia.

  34. helen-louise: Thanks for your comment, and for your article. Very good! I am the first to admit that my B-ness is quite mild, and I can only imagine the hell you other Bs have to go through But keep the flag flying – one day all this will be ours.

  35. for one thing, i can’t get any time to myself to think until most of the world has gone to bed. In a related matter, I don’t know how my employers expect me to do decent, well thought-out work in the sensory equivalent of the center ring of a three ring circus all day.

  36. Pretend like you live in a different time zone. Somewhere in the world there is a time of day that you like.

  37. Hey, I’ll start out by proudly proclaiming my B-ness. It’s the bane of my housemate’s lives, seeing as they are all freakishly A-type people. If left to my own devices I’m a 4am – 1pm kinda guy..

    Anyway, I am currently in my final year of a graphic design course at university in the uk, and recently got a brief with the words “2:AM – 3AM” written on it. Everyone got something different, and it’s up to us to interpret the phrases and to set ourselves a brief based on our interpretation. I had already heard about A and B type people on a radio programme a while ago, and stumbled onto this blog entry from google. I intend on doing some sort of public awareness campaign as my response to the brief, I thought you might be interested in the result, so I’ll link to it from here when it’s finished! (Also any suggestions for tag-lines/content would be much appreciated!)

    Keep up the good work and vive la resistance!

    – Rob

  38. Scarlet_Hills: Sounds great! Please let me know how it works out. Most of the info I have about this is in the links in the article. Keep the flag flying!

  39. […] However New Scientist likes to burst clichés such as this and the new evidence suggest that Neanderthal technology (ie. rock and pieces of rock) was comparable to and possibly better than that of our ancestors. So whatever caused them to disappear, it was not their inferior cutting and striking surfaces. Maybe they were just bad morning people. […]

  40. […] at these volumes – hard, fast and loud. And generally rubbish. I can’t really understand, being not at all a morning person, why anybody would need that kind of music at 7:22 on a weekday. And why so fucking loud? Is it […]

  41. This explains the story of my life, I have always been the same when left to my own devices ie on holidays my routine was always very late to bed very late up. Wonder if it has anythng to do with the time of day you were born. I was born at 12 noon and can honestly say this is when my brain and energy levels go into action. I have 3 siblings and 2 are A people. they probably wouldn’t sleep late even on holiday, whereas me and my B brother could happily sleep til noon all the time. My B list brother and I have similar personalities, wonder if that has anything to do with it. I sometimes think I just lack self discipline and can be an A list person if I put my mind to it but maybe I’m just programmed different.

  42. Just found this blog. Spot on.

    I’m totally B, and driven berserk by the A-types. My girlfriend is fast
    asleep when I get to bed, but does bring me my breakfast on a
    tray sometimes, so maybe it’s only half bad! Fortunately, I’ve had

    bosses who tolerated my arrival in the office at 11am, knowing I would
    still be there at 8pm and doing the best work. For years I commuted 50

    or even 80 miles to work, and could avoid the rush-hour, thus gaining two useful hours each day. Now I am a consultant, and aim to
    schedule meetings for the afternoon, so I can work from home at hours
    that suit me. I agree wholeheartedly with comments about doing the
    best work when it is dark, cool and quiet. If the sun is shining, it
    is better to be outside enjoying it anyway.

    I have several theories to explain the phenomenon, mostly flippant:

    (1) we all have DNA remnants that go back to a time when the Earth
    rotated more slowly, so B-ness is simply retention of the second half of the longer day
    (2) survival depends on staying in the cave until the
    lions have had lunch, and a tired-in-the-evening herbivore is easier to
    catch than a spring-heeled-just-woken-up one
    (3) human evolutionary success is in large part attributable to our social skills, and who

    ever sits around the campfire socialising during daylight? Anyway,
    it’s dangerous, you can’t see the flames.

  43. Hello and good evening from Philadelphia,PA. I work the 3 -11pm shift in a hotel, which I have ben doing for 18 years and love it. I always knew I was a B person. Before I worked at the hotel, I had worked at a textile mill and had to be there everyday at 7am and hated it. When I got the job at the hotel, I offered to work 3-11pm and they were glad since most people want to work at 7am an A people always complain about working 2nd shift, it interuppts their routine and so on. Pwer to the B people!

  44. THANK GOD!!!! I now know I’m a B person and I’m not alone. Jeez, I’ve been a night owl since I was a kid. My body/mind wants to go to bed between 12am – 1am and rise at 9am. I could never get to my former office jobs on time–always a struggle and I was always tired. Thank you so much for this article.

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