“…morning shows the day.” – John Milton

by Shannon

I am a relatively unproductive person. This is a sad and mostly self perpetuating fact of my life and habits. It’s not quite what I want out of my life, but at the very least, I am the kind of person who is more or less aware of her faults and to some degree tries to overcome them. I do believe that life is a constant process of self improvement, of enforced change and thoughtfulness, and that without that, a person will generally stagnate and become miserable. Unfortunately, one of the aforementioned flaws also happens to be a decided lack of self discipline, so I’m good at compiling lists and outlines of how I’m going to tackle a given issue, but not so good at following through with those plans without outside encouragement or commitment to another person.

I have this ridiculous picture in my head of the kinds of people I admire in a personal way, and by that I mean the people I’d most like to become. It’s like… When I was a kid, I was in girl scouts, and so was my sister, and my brother was in cub scouts/boy scouts, and as a result, quite a few of our family vacations involved camping trips. This was never something that pleased my mother, but I always really liked it. We had a two room tent that fit all six of us, three duffel bags and three air mattresses (this was my mother’s concession: she’d go camping, but she would not sleep on the ground). I have always been a decided night person. In a smallish house with one computer on dial-up and five other immediate family members, it was more a survival tactic than any particular ingrained habit. I wanted to read and write, and I couldn’t do it with my family watching television and harassing me and generally making a ruckus. So I’d wait them out, and then stay up until I could see the first hints of light peeking through the trunks of the trees in my backyard, and then would sneak upstairs to sleep for a few hours before getting caught. Anyway, when we went camping, with the way the world wakes up, the sun and the moisture in the air and the cracks of broken leaves and twigs under feet, it was really, really easy to get up early, before everyone else. I could wake while the sun was still red and orange, and shower and dress and walk, and get back in time for breakfast and campfire coffee. And I guess I sort of miss that.

The thing is, early morning is one of my favorite times of day. I love the way the air feels, not oppressive, but half asleep, sticky, but electric. I love the way it smells, and I love that it’s not silent at all, but that the drone of human activity has for the most part ceased. But due to long ingrained circadian rhythms, I only ever get to see it when I stay awake all night. And that’s a problem.

This is what I mean about how I imagine the people I admire. I want mornings. I want to wake up at five a.m. and do yoga while the house is silent, and then make coffee and breakfast and spend an hour or two writing before work. I want to be the person who is up and active before everyone else, well rested and happy. For years I tricked myself into not wanting this, saying, “night time is when everything happens! If you become a morning person, you’ll never see your friends. You’ll be boring.” Honey, you never see your friends anyway. You don’t have a social life to leave behind.

In other words, I have no reason not to do this.

So, here’s my action plan:

  • leave your alarm clock set for 6am every day, not just the days I actually have work
  • stop using the snooze button. Literally get out of bed when the alarm sounds, before you have time to think about it.
  • do at least one salute to the sun every morning, while coffee is brewing
  • stop drinking coffee in the afternoon (you can keep green and white tea, on miserable days). Also, drink more water!
  • stop using the computer when you can’t sleep, and instead write by hand, or read. Also, turn the monitor brightness down.
  • make going to the gym in the evenings, before dinner, a priority. (I read that 5pm to 7pm is the ideal time to exercise, to help you sleep better)

Anyway, the idea here is to change my sleep cycle without any outside help such as melatonin supplements. I like to try and do things without medication whenever possible, and I don’t really want my sleeping habits to become dependent upon a supplement.

Has anyone else ever tried to change their night owl ways? Were you successful?

More importantly, does anyone else out there want to join me? I could really use some early morning company. We could cheer one another on as we embrace the day!