Every morning when the alarm wakes me, my sleepy mind conjures up ridiculous excuses why I should not get out of bed. One of the most popular is, "I might be tired later." If it is the morning of my sunrise yoga class, I wonder if perhaps it might be forecasted to storm as the class gets out, or maybe it will be too foggy to see properly while I drive there.
Sometimes there are legitimate reasons to get a little more sleep, but those are exceptions, not a daily occurrence as my groggy brain would have me believe.
I have slept longer than others my entire life. Even as a young girl, I was the last one awake in the morning at sleepovers with friends, and I "inherited" the ability to read for hours in bed every night from my mother and grandmother, making late nights normal for me. I understand now also that my body simply needs about nine hours of sleep. I can shorten that time a bit by taking a short nap in the daytime and by reducing my sugar and grain intake (and no chocolate after 4pm--I am extremely sensitive to caffeine), but it is doubtful that I will ever be a person who can function well with six hours of sleep.
I have wanted to rise up earlier than necessary for years, but couldn't seem to master the going to bed part of the equation. I finally figured that if I can get myself to bed on time (even if I didn't get up early yet), I will have won half the battle.
In the last year, this is the evening routine that has developed:
- My day essentially ends at 8pm. We have eaten, cleaned up the kitchen, put laundry away, and taken a walk or whatever we're doing that evening. My jammies are on and I've flossed and brushed.
- At 8pm, we pray together as a family. (Don't be jealous, it's not as holy as it sounds-- a certain someone is usually mewling around and whining about his legs hurting too much to be able to stand, and sometimes I am in a grumpy crossed-arm sort of mood, but we pray for mercy and it's an anchor in our day.)
- Oliver is in his room after that; he gets tucked in at nine, but he can play quietly, read books, or listen to an audiobook. Sometimes this works, and sometimes he's not quite so independent in the evenings and we improvise.
- I head to my room at this time, for reading or writing.
- A little before nine, I pray with Oliver, tuck him in, then wait while he suddenly needs to go to the bathroom or get a drink or blow his nose. I tuck him in again. We also turn off the internet at nine. (Well not the whole internet--you guys can still use it at your house.)
- After that, my light is out by 9:30, or 10:30 at the very latest.
We don't have a tv, and I typically only watch a handful of movies a year (I would say maybe 10 or fewer), so if my husband and I are watching a movie in our room we just start the routine earlier. Chad enjoys movies more than I do, so sometimes he will start one earlier on his own. The two of us are together a lot, so it's okay with us if we do our own thing some evenings, but he is usually reading at nine too.
So I've been following this evening routine for many months, which has been an improvement, even though I haven't been waking up earlier. I no longer stay up late by myself to finish a project or be online. And the yoga class definitely motivates me to get to sleep on time the night before.
In the last week, I've been able to wake up early even on non-yoga days, but it hasn't been long enough for me to say it's a Thing. I'm tinkering with different morning routines. There's prayer, some yoga, Scripture reading, writing. I shower and dress, or just stay in my pajamas until breakfast, depending on the day. There is always tea.
The older I get, the more okay I am with works in progress, which is good, because I am one. I realize there is time to improve slowly, and slow improvement is better than sitting stuck and doing nothing because it won't be perfect. (The quote, "Don't let perfect be the enemy of done" really shifted things for me.)
As is the way of life, all this may change soon; I've accepted a part time position as an administrative assistant at the local college and will start work Tuesday. The hours are flexible and varied, and the position seems more suited to me than anything I could have dreamed up on my own.
That's the news from the woods, where the crickets are singing their September song and I can hear the crows coming with the promise of autumn. Blessed Thursday!
PS If you have babies or children who are waking in the night or early in the morning, all bets are off and for sanity's sake don't try to fit yourself into my situation. Oliver wakes up at 7:30 or 8am, and he is nine years old; we went through varied sleep seasons with him in the first few years. Cut yourself some slack, do what you can, and be content with slow improvement.