Okay, and yes. And I have swampland in Florida for sale, too. However it is 3:24 am, and I have been up since three. This does not, in and of itself, make me productive. Which is why, when I peruse the Medium articles about being an early riser, I get mildly annoyed.
Here’s the piece: do any amount of research on sleep, and you’ll discover that as you and I age, our body’s natural sleep cycle may well shift. In my case, I’ve always been an early riser, being a farm girl. Dad and me, up early. Mom and my brother, night owls.
About three years ago, I suddenly started to wake up at 3 am. Nothing in particular happened. No bells and whistles. Didn’t set the alarm. Just wide awake. Time to get up. NOW.
That was such an imperative that the only choice I had to was to get to bed a lot earlier or be a right bitch all day. So, to bed, between 7:30 and 8 pm.
Bye-bye night life, what there was of it (none, frankly).
As I already adore the early morning, waking up at three has given me several more hours before dawn. I write my best at this time, exercise, shower, and meditate. Just as I did at 5 am.
That in and of itself does not magically make me more productive.
Getting up early isn’t the point. Having crisp goals, being able to focus on them and discipline yourself to get things done all have a lot more to do with whether getting up earlier per se is helpful to your career or life goals.
A woman for whom I have the utmost respect, Dr. Josefina Monasterio, also gets up about the same time I do. Is that going to give you her body, in her mid-seventies? No. Busting your ass, eating right, exercising like a banshee and having a few other genetic predispositions towards being able to build that kind of muscle have everything to do with it. Body type. And, short people have a much easier time bulking up than taller ones.
Be like me, do what I do. NOPE. Be like you, find out what you do, more like it.
This is what one person wrote about getting up early and what it meant. I can relate. I’ve been part of that club my whole life. Now I am spending more time in it.
I am deliriously, deliciously happy here.
That does not mean that you will be. From three to six am are my best hours. To argue that this will work for you (given your personal habits, kids, spouse, animals, job, etc) is ludicrous. Like all advice offered on Medium and elsewhere, it smacks of the kind self-congratulatory assumption that if it works for me, well then, it’s gonna work for you.
Last year, when I had the ex living here, I got a noseful of what it’s like being the uber early riser when someone else isn’t. How pissed off they get when you are up doing yoga in the living room. Their dog wants your attention, the jingle of their collar, the sound of your feet on the floorboards, running water.
We were doomed anyway, but this most certainly didn’t help. It acted like salt into the wound of what he wasn’t getting done when I was up producing articles and exercising for hours while he flopped around downstairs on his own bed. Not my problem, but it sure evolved into one.
So while yes, there are some advantages to hauling your carcass out of the comfort of your bed hours before anyone else, there are other considerations.
Like, would you like to stay married?
While there are several issues that I have with this article, it does in part explain that as you and I age into our later years, there are some characteristics that affect our sleep. One is that we do wake up more often to pee (my hand is up) but also, that lighter sleep is likely.
Let me opine here. The more I exercise, the better I sleep.
Let me say that again: the more I exercise, the better I sleep.
So rather than accept Conventional Wisdom (as in: this is what happens to ALL of us as we age, which is patently bullshit), as we age, and as our bodies begin to change, there are many things we can do to ensure that good night’s sleep.
This excellent New York Times article will give you a terrific idea of just how much sleep you and I need to be productive, but also to avoid Alzheimer’s other issues. It’s not just that you and I can end up cranky all day. Everything goes south.
Good sleep hygiene is just as important as exercise and good food, but then you knew that. We all know that.
Then we lie in bed with our phones and tablets anyway.
Look, you don’t need me to bark at you about bedtime hygiene. You already know damned good and well what you should do.
So if I may, let’s be clear here. If you aren’t willing to divorce yourself from your screens at night, work your body so that it falls into bed with that blissful gratitude that a well-worked mass of muscles feels at the end of the day, and eat the kinds of foods that ensure a happy tummy at night (and avoid coffee or tea close to bedtime), no exhortation to get up early is going to make you successful.
Getting up early isn’t the point. Taking care of your entire body- including your brain- is. Learning what your unique body needs right now, at this age, in this body, is the journey. That’s going to shift and morph over time.
Listen to what your body wants. When I woke up last night at 1 am, I padded to the fridge and got a big bowl of cherries. Turns out that cherries are the perfect choice because they are a natural source of melatonin. I had no clue. My body did. So does yours.
Just as a pregnant woman knows precisely what her baby needs. Just as a finely-tuned athlete knows that they need protein or an apple or a handful of nuts or a big salad. The body is wonderfully eloquent.
Just as it will tell you that no, you dumb ass, I will NOT get up at oh-dark thirty just because some moke on Medium writes that it’s going to make me a millionaire.
More likely, if you aren’t made this way, it will make you miserable.
As with all advice on Medium and elsewhere, throw it against the wall of your personal reality. Just because waking up at 3 am works for me is meaningless. For who I am, what I do and my personal lifestyle, it’s perfect.
For who you are and what you do, what may be perfect is to pull your fur baby closer, close your eyes and go back to sleep for another four hours.
And that’s perfectly okay.