Tuesday, February 28, 2012

awaking the beast

I am not a morning person.

I never will be a morning person.

This is something about myself that I've accepted I cannot change. I'm a night owl through and through.

Even as a child, I was aghast when my friends told me they woke up at 6 am on weekends just so they could watch cartoons. First of all, cartoons suck. Seriously, I was never into them, even as a kid. Second of all, sleep is way more important. Third of all, why are you waking up WHEN IT'S STILL DARK OUT? That's not natural!

As a teenager and college student, I loved sleeping in. This is probably pretty normal behavior for adolescents.

People told me, "Oh, once you get a job, you'll never be able to sleep in. Your body will automatically wake up early, even on weekends." or "Oh, once you get older, you'll become a morning person."



I'm 33. I still like to sleep in. I freaking HATE mornings.

Seriously, do NOT talk to me in the morning. Do not try to coax me out of bed. I will be mean to you. (I'm sorry about that, but I just can't help it.) Also, if you utter the phrase "Good morning, sunshine!" or "Rise and shine, sleepyhead!" within my earshot, I *will* punch you.

I've learned over time that my body's clock prefers for me to sleep between the hours of 4 am and noon. Yes, I realize that this schedule does not work with society's expectations, so I've spent much of my adult life trying to fight it. But I am most productive between midnight and 4 am. That is when I catch my second wind and my creative burst.

When I worked in an office, this was obviously a problem. I was always trying not to be late to work. I slept through my alarm quite a bit. I turned the alarm up so loud the neighbors complained, and I still slept through it when it was blaring away right next to my face. I got a second alarm clock. I slept through that, too. I had bosses and co-workers who were extreme-morning people. Why is it that morning people always turn their noses up at night owls as if we are slackers? Just because I get into work later does not mean I don't work just as hard once the sun starts to set.

(Oh, and hey, morning people? At least my bedtime is not equivalent to that of a baby's!)

Part of the problem may be that I don't drink coffee. I made it through five years of architecture school (and many many all-nighters including staying awake in the studio for 72 hours straight) without a single cup of coffee. I tried taking a no-doze once and it made me feel like a strung-out jittery crack addict. I never did that again. I stayed awake through sheer willpower and by chewing spearmint gum (and the occasional cookie).

I guess what I'm saying is that my sleep habits suck and they have for a long time. Even when I do get up "early" I don't know what to do with myself because my brain does not seem to fully function. I sit around and stare at the walls until it becomes a more appropriate hour for getting things done. Sometimes I allow myself the luxury of reading a book in the morning. But guess what happens? I end up falling asleep.

So, as my 30 Day Challenge for March, my goal is to set a regular sleep schedule, get up "early", and have a bedtime. This is going to be harder for me than it sounds...

Alright, morning people, here is my schedule, so please don't laugh at me (I apologize for that crack about a baby's bedtime. Also, I'm sorry if you like cartoons):

8:00 am Out of bed! Seriously, no snoozing!
11:00 pm In bed. Do something relaxing, like read a book. (Or drink wine.)
12:00 am Lights out.

I realize that a wake-up time of 8 am is much later than most people get up for their day jobs. I realize that some people get up early and do things like *run* and *work-out* and still get to work before 8 am. I am not those people. Also, baby steps...

Now here's my problem. Like I said, when I get up early I don't really function well and I don't know what to do with myself. I'd like to start working earlier in my studio, but I feel like I need an hour pre-work to get going. What should I do with myself during this time? Suggestions?

What do you morning people (or recovered night owls) do to start your day? How do you find momentum to keep going through the morning? HELP.


Pickles and Dimes said...

Oh, God - this is me! Whenever I do wake up early, I can barely function. I try to do bloggy stuff and weightlifting and productive stuff in the mornings before I go to work, and it rarely happens.

Jason, on the other hand, wakes up at 5 am to jog. And then he jogs again after work.

(And that is why he falls asleep on the couch every night at 8pm.)

If you're like me, maybe doing an hour of "prep" work in your studio will help wake you ip: organizing your supplies, washing brushes, etc.? I don't know how people can just wake up and be creative, you know? I need to slowly wade out from the shallow end before I even get close to feeling awake and creative.

Sarah Rooftops said...

I never liked cartoons but I did eventually become a morning person... when I was 33...

Sarah said...

HAHA! I snorted laughing when I read this.

Okay, I am one of those "morning people." But just as you've always been a night owl, I've always been a morning person. So I think a lot of it is not fighting who you are and making it work.

But, if you are interested in some morning people "tricks," I have to say, going to bed early is a big one. I go to bed between 9:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. I am absolutely exhausted by this point because I've been up since 5: 30 a.m.

I go work out first thing in the morning, and I know that gives me a lot of energy. Maybe take the dogs for a walk early?

I think it takes at least 30 days to try a new schedule. But, if you do better going to bed late and sleeping in, you should do what works for you! That's the beauty of being soloentreprenuers, right?!

*You should come with me to my 6 a.m. classes at Golds!* ;)

Karin said...

LOVE this post! I was laughing because so much of this is totally me...minus cartoons and coffee because I enjoy both...but not enough to wake-up early for them! I cannot go to bed before midnight, and my norm is between 1am-2am. If I had my way, I would sleep til at least 10am every day. I love the night, I have no desire to be in bed before midnight...and I resent people who think that being a "morning person" is better...hey, I don't tell morning people to be "night owls", so don't think less of me for not waking up earlier! This was a bit of a problem at my last job at a design studio, I liked to keep work hours of 11am to 8pm because these were the hours where I was most productive...and I worked 8+ hrs a day! Believe me, I could go on and on, but basically I subscribe to the fact that everyone is different...people learn differently...and people sleep differently...don't force everyone to rise & shine at the same time...that would be a boring world! :)

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Shauna & Karin - So happy to have found some fellow night owls! "Slowly wading out of the shallow end" is the perfect way to describe my approach to being awake in the mornings! I also agree that everyone is different and everyone has a different internal clock - so why does the world expect everyone to work from 8 am to 5 pm?

Sarah Rosemary - I know you're a morning person and I love you anyway (just don't try to get me to go anywhere at 6 am)! I do wish I could be like you and get up early and exercise, but I know myself well enough to know this will never happen!

Amanda said...

Rachel, the way in which you discussed your aversion to mornings is how I feel about nights. I can't stay up late unless I have been drinking. I have never been a night hawk and it used to pain me when I would be invited for sleepovers cause I knew I had to stay up late :(

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Too funny, Amanda - I loved sleepovers! (And I was always one of the "bad kids" who stayed up the latest!) I think it's so interesting how some people are wired to be morning people and some are wired to be night people, and it's darn near impossible to change!

Larry was like you - he cannot stay up late and even as a kid, he would PUT HIMSELF TO BED if he got tired! I'm pretty sure I never put myself to bed or went to bed without a fight. I was the kid with the flashlight reading under my pillow until 2 am!

Brandi {not your average ordinary} said...

I'm one of those unfortunate morning people. I usually go to bed at 10am and wake at 4:40am. If I sleep in, it's until 7am (7:30am if I'm on-my-deathbed sick). I've actually never had coffee. But I've just discovered over the years that my most productive hours are from about 8:30am-1pm. I exercise early in the morning and that usually helps me get started. I'm honestly all for working according to your natural rhythms and I think companies should take advantage of that and offer employees non-traditional hours (and work-from-home too). I so want to start a revolution there.

Funnelcloud Rachel said...

Brandi - 4:40 am is insane, but I wish I could do it. I totally agree with you that everyone should be able to work according to their own rhythms - unfortunately, the rest of the world does not agree with this, but I love your idea of starting a revolution! Go go go!

Also, I love that you've never had coffee. I've never drank a cup of coffee in my life, but am loathe to admit it because it seems that the rest of the world is obsessed with coffee!