I read a resolution post early this morning that inspired this post…
The year is 1993, I’ve been sober for less than six months and I’m finally going from delivering pizzas to a factory job, I’m not quite 23 yet. Unfortunately up until my first day at the shop I had always been a night person – late to bed, late to rise. This is just fine when the pizza place doesn’t open until 11 am but when you’re due to show up at 6 am to work a 12 hour shift, well let’s just say that I had to turn things around in a hurry.
Many people make the mistake in assuming that morning people are all just “born like that”, that we have some mystical gene that let us wake up earlier and more chipper than everyone else. In my experience, that’s a bunch of hooey. I had to train myself, from day one kicking and fighting, to wake up before 6 am. In the process, I made every mistake known to man – snooze bars, sleeping in on Sunday (I worked 6 hours on Saturdays too), you name it.
Here’s my 10 year process in perfecting waking up early boiled down into a three-minute read…
My first week was living hell – I would go to bed somewhere between 11 pm and midnight and wake to my radio alarm somewhere around 5:15 (the alarm started going off at 5:00 or so). Then I’d hit the snooze bar for another half hour before I’d wake up groggy as all hell, jump in the shower and run out the door (the shop was less than 5 minutes from my apartment)… I’d pull into the parking lot with approximately 30 seconds to spare. This process grew tiring over the next few months – specifically I hated showing up just in the nick of time. The first mistake I changed was the alarm – I put that damn thing from radio to FREAKING AIR HORN. I never slept through a portion of my alarm after that. I’ve heard of people setting their alarms on their phone to vibrate!!!(?) and then complain that they slept through it. Let’s just leave this at “it’s not surprising”. That seemed to work for years so I never bothered worrying about anything more.
A few years later after I was married I got into construction – 7 am start time, but I was living in Flint and commuting to Walled Lake (it’s about a 55 minute commute). With that kind of commute, waking up at 5:00 became necessary. My alarm would go off at five and I’d mess with the snooze a few times before crawling, groggy, out of bed and making my way to the shower. On a fluke I woke up three days in a row without hitting the snooze bar. On the third day I realized that I wasn’t groggy when I got up on the first alarm – in fact I actually felt better without that extra half hour of interrupted sleep and I had more time to get ready and get out the door. This was really the big epiphany for me…and it was the last time I ever wanted to use the snooze bar. It took months to break the habit – to break that initial waking thought that I was still tired and needed to hit the snooze. In the end, it came down to getting out of bed no matter how I “felt” – I literally had to tell myself daily that I would feel worse if I hit the snooze bar. Eventually it stuck.
There was one final mistake that I had to deal with… A few years ago I noticed that I’d struggle with wanting to wake up from time to time (still, after all of that!). This was fleeting so I had a tough time trying to get a handle on the pattern, as to cause, I didn’t have a clue so I started doing some research on the web, just simple Google searches – and that’s when I stumbled on the final piece of the puzzle: Weekends. I slept in on the weekends – usually till 7 or 8 and that was the fly in the ointment. I developed an irregular pattern that would end up biting me from time to time, and almost always on Mondays and Tuesdays. I found several solutions during that search and ended up combining a couple of them. One said only to sleep in on Sundays and another said to limit “sleeping in” to 30 minute to 1 hour after your normal wakeup time on the weekends. Now on Saturdays I wake up at 4:30 and if I feel like sleeping in on Sunday, I’m up by 5:30.
From there, it’s practice makes perfect.
So that was about 9 years ago. Today I’m waking up between 3:50 and 4:30 am (unless I’m busy and I can’t sleep in which case I’ll wake up early and head into the office, though I’m trying to curb that practice a little bit), including weekends, and I couldn’t be happier or more alive on waking. I didn’t start out a morning person, but I sure am one now – and yes, tormenting the late risers (even if I used to be one) is awesome fun and I make use of every opportunity I get to do so.
As a Post Script, I should probably add that physical fitness has played an instrumental roll in how I sleep – with working out daily in one form or another, I rarely have a problem falling asleep – and one very important key to waking up is the ability to fall asleep.
As a Post-post Script, I do find it necessary to burn the candle at both ends, if you will, from time to time – I have to go to sleep way late (midnight-ish) and wake up early (3:30). I don’t know why this is and it’s never become a problem so I haven’t bothered trying to get a handle on it, I just roll with it.