Article by Wendy McCance
I never thought I would have the inclination to attempt to become a morning person. It’s never been something I’ve strived for or felt a need to do. I have always embraced the night.
Since I was little, bedtime was a time that I dreaded. I didn’t care how tired I was, I would attempt to power through the sleepiness just to stay up a little longer. As a teenager, I loved having some freedom of choice. I stayed up longer and slept in later and felt most comfortable in that routine.
It’s funny looking back. For someone who fought getting into bed at night, once there, I felt so snug, it was just as awful getting out of bed to start a new day. I just wanted to curl up and sleep while the world was getting busy.
Of course, responsibilities kept me from the schedule I loved best, but I did manage to find a niche that encouraged the habit. For several years I worked in the restaurant industry. Bars were my favorite. You start work well after dinner time and are going steady until 2 am. After the bar closed, employees would hang out shooting pool, playing darts and just enjoying each others company. For most of my 20’s I had no reason to move on from such a comfortable lifestyle. I made great money (cash in hand each night) and had a great time waiting on customers. It just felt like a big party each day and I loved it.
By the time I was nearing 30, the idea of waitressing lost its appeal for me. I wanted to move on to what I considered a more grown-up job, so I began selling wine and spirits to the restaurants and bars I had frequented over the years.
In this new position, even though I had to be at work at 6 am each day, I still couldn’t shake being a night owl. It was who I was and no matter what I did to try and change my ways, mornings were a painful process when I had to get up and I fought with myself each night to get some sleep.
3 kids later and I still loved my nights, but now, it meant even more to me. Night time was when I put the kids to sleep and got some downtime. It was a opportunity to relax. I would watch television or do some writing or have some tea and read a book. It was just nice to grab some time that felt so peaceful and quiet.
So, after 40 some years of being a serious night owl, I have decided to change my ways. I have been trying to figure out what the tipping point was that made me determined to become an early riser, but I think it might just be the nature progression of my life.
The kids are on my schedule now. Staying up late and sleeping in whenever possible. My husband is working so early that his days begin at 3:30 am and he is ready for bed by 8 pm. I am in the middle and feel completely out of sync.
Just a few years back, 10 pm was the magic hour. The kids were tucked away in bed and I would spend each night writing. I usually put the computer away around 2 am and went to bed. My most creative work always took place in the middle of the night. It was my preferred time to work on projects as well. Now the kids are up and my husband is in bed so there is no quiet corner to run off to so that I can write without interruption.
I have also found that as I have gotten older, I have become a person who runs out of steam without a nap. If I sleep in, and then take an afternoon nap, my day is really gone. I want more sunlight and more interaction with the family. So, I have decided to change my ways. It’s not easy, but I have a goal and want to see it met. I found a system for helping you get your internal clock reset and it seems to be working.
I had been struggling with insomnia for months and was miserable. I have tried many things to get some extra sleep. Somehow, I finally stumbled on a combination of things that has brought me some major relief. I am a big tea drinker and drink tea each evening before bed. I have tried decaffeinated tea, but it hasn’t made a dent in my ability to fall asleep. I found a sleepytime tea and it has made a difference. I actually feel sleepy at bedtime. The other thing I have done is installed f.lux on my computer. It’s a free program that dims and brightens your computer screen throughout the day. It’s amazing how well it has worked. As the screen gets pinker (at night) I feel myself get sleepier. I was never able to give up my computer habit, so this has turned out to be a nice compromise. My daughter who is hooked on her computer as well had sleep issues too. She installed the program and has also been sleeping better.
So now that my sleep is improving, I took advantage of the extra hour of sleep we got for daylight savings time and figured now was the time to make the change. The system to get yourself in the habit of being a morning person is simple. Each night, go to bed 15 minutes earlier than the night before until you reach your goal bedtime. Each morning when the alarm rings, get right out of bed. Turn on lights and if it’s late enough, open curtains to let sunlight in. Get moving by taking a shower or exercise right away.
It’s 8:30 am right now. I have been up since 6 am. I got the kids off to school, but then took a shower the minute I got home. Afterwards, I grabbed a cup of tea and sat right down to begin writing. The house is quiet, the sun is shining and I am feeling the same peaceful sense of quiet that I used to get at night when everyone went off to bed. The big difference is that instead of hiding away from the world, I feel like I am a part of it.
Way back in the day, I used to love the idea of the moody artist who likes to be alone and uses that time to create. Darkness was a big part of the overall theme. I have to say, I have definitely outgrown hiding in the darkeness and would rather embrace a day filled with light. Having the windows open and hearing the sounds of the day is incredible. Yep,I definitely think I am well on my way to becoming a morning person.
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