“Become an early riser? Me? Not a chance!”
Believe me, I understand the sentiment. I am NOT an early riser. Not at all. In fact, when the alarm goes off, I’m always immediately irritated. I hate being woken up.
Being a stay-at-home Mom this past year, I haven’t had to deal with setting my own early alarm clocks very often. Since my husband, however, has to get up and go off to teach every day, I found a great tool for dealing with the annoyance of his phone’s incessant chirping at 6 a.m.:
Of course, now that school is on the verge of letting out for the summer (this Wednesday, in fact), you would think that I would be delightedly contemplating a summer full of unplugged alarm clocks.
Instead, I find myself doing the almost unthinkable:
I am attempting to transition into becoming an early riser.
Unlike my sister and my children, I have never been a natural early riser. In a world of Larks and Owls, my feet are firmly planted in the “Owl” camp. By about 7:30 in the evening, I am usually just hitting my stride. And while I noticed lately that I sometimes experience a brief slowdown around 8:30, I usually blast through that, and keep on going for hours afterward.
Midnight? 1 a.m.? 2 a.m.? No problem. It’s quiet in the house, and I can read, watch a video, do some online reading or research, clear out emails, check Facebook, catch up on Twitter–there are a myriad of things to do late at night when the house has settled in for the evening and the only sounds I can hear are occasional snores or the chirping of crickets outside.
I could easily stay up till 2, then sleep in until 10 or 11. One time, when on a solo visit in Hoboken, I actually rolled over, looked at the clock (which read 10 a.m.), and went right back to sleep.
Doing that was utter heaven! Is there anything more wonderful than sleeping in as long as you want, without the guilty feeling that you really should be getting up now?
It turns out that there is.
You see, the paradox in this whole thing is that I actually love early mornings. I really, truly love that early-morning light, and the feel to the air as the sun rises!
I’ve always told people that I love mornings, but I hate getting up for them. And it’s true. However, knowing that I will have to get used to getting up early in the morning when I go back to teaching next fall, I have decided to start now. I’m not going to waste this opportunity to train myself to become an early riser.
I had some practice these last four days. I had meetings Thursday and Friday at the school where I’ll be teaching next year, and those started by 8. When you include the 35 minute commute time, you can see I had to be out the door shortly after 7 a.m. both mornings.
Then on Saturday morning at 9, my husband and I went to the Town Meeting where they were voting on the 2013 budget.
Sunday morning, we were out the door by 5:30 to go pick up our oldest daughter, who spent the night with her team at Relay for Life.
Those early mornings made me realize I could do this, and that since I had already had a head start, I should stick with it.
I decided I’d start off with a bang. So last night, I set my iPhone (which I still love, by the way) for 5:45 a.m..
The reason? I have errands to run this afternoon, and one involves the DMV. Knowing that I will be too busy to work out later on, and having skipped two trips to Planet Fitness due to Father’s Day and school meetings, I decided that if I didn’t want to make a habit of skipping workouts entirely, I had better go early.
My mom-in-law agreed to watch my youngest daughter while I was at the club, knowing she wouldn’t be up until 8 o’clock anyway. So at 5:45, my alarm went off, and I sprang out of bed, bright-eyed and eager, ready to get on with my day.
…Sure makes a nice story, doesn’t it?
What I really did was groan, roll over, look at my iPhone, and hit the “snooze” button on the top. Then I flopped back, covered my face with my arms, and wondered what in the hell had possessed me to think I could actually get up before 6 a.m., willingly, on my own, with no meetings or outside responsibilities driving me.
The snooze went off again, I shut it off again, and I lay there, sleep desperately clawing at my brain. Instead, I reminded myself of all the reasons I needed to get up:
- I have about 10 weeks until school starts again so I better train myself now
- I needed to exercise early because the lag time until my youngest got up meant I would get most of it done before she even woke
- I wasn’t going to be exercising later
- Getting up early is hardest while you’re still adjusting to it
- I have already gotten up early every day these past four days, so I’m starting to get conditioned to it
- I didn’t want to fall back into the late-riser, late-sleeper trap I’ve been in
- I really DO like early mornings!
- I feel accomplished when I get things done early
- It’s embarrassing to state your intention to get up early, then sleep in. (Talk about looking like a slug!)
One of the weirdest things about getting up early is that it’s actually good for you. According to an article in Yahoo SHINE on the advantages of getting up early, sleeping when the sun is up messes with your natural “circadian” rhythms. Early risers are reported to be more optimistic, more stable, and more conscientious. Night owls may be more creative, but they’re often more neurotic and depressed as well!
There are a lot of great reasons for rising early, and for me, it’s all about time. My best friend, Pam, and I have discussed many times how, if we sleep in, we feel as though the day is wasted. Many times I’ve gotten up past 9 or 10, and I usually end up schlumping around the house, feeling tired and irritable, not wanting to straighten up or do any of my daily chores.
Today, after I finally bargained myself through my last “just five more minutes” delay, I got up, and as quickly as I could got dressed for the club. I also brushed my teeth. There’s something about that minty toothpaste that zings me into semi-alertness, no matter how tired I am. Then I left for the club, patting myself on the back for not giving in to the desire to go back to sleep.
It’s now 11:30 a.m. and I’ve exercised for over two hours, straightened up the house, dealt with a finicky washing machine, filled out the forms for the DMV, and got my daughter a snack.
Oh, and I’ve finished writing my blog.
If I can just get myself used to becoming an early riser, I know I will love all the stuff I can get done with my day!
Your Monday Challenge is this:
Tonight, set your alarm clock for a half hour earlier than normal. When it goes off in the morning, don’t give in to the temptation to shut it off and roll back over for “just 30 more minutes”.
Get up, brush your teeth, get yourself some coffee, and enjoy the extra time you have. Notice how the morning feels, and how it looks. Hopefully you’ll be up before everyone else, so you’ll have a little “me” time to read the paper (or the internet), do some exercise or stretching, take a little walk, or even just look out the window and enjoy the morning stillness.
Tomorrow night, set your alarm to go off a half hour early again.
Keep this up for a solid week. At the end of the week, re-evaluate and decide how it worked. Did you like the extra time? Do you want to go back to your original time, or do you want to continue? Perhaps you want to add an extra half hour more; if so, simply set your alarm for an hour earlier than it used to be.
Try to keep it consistent, and soon you may notice your body adjusting to the earlier schedule.
Good luck and be sure to let us all know how your experiment works!
Aloha kakahiaka (Good morning)!