I didn’t think I was a morning person. For decades, I’ve vehemently claimed to be a night owl. Everything changed four days ago.
Four days ago, I started conducting an experiment on myself. I began getting up an hour and a half earlier than usual. It may sound dramatic, but my life has already changed for the better. I actually have more energy getting up at 5:30 a.m. than I did getting up at 7:00 a.m. It’s nothing short of miraculous for someone who hates mornings as much as I do, or thought I did.
Why I wanted to try being an early bird
Getting up earlier wasn’t a decision I made arbitrarily. I’ve been wanting to spend more time on my writing. I like writing blog posts, but what I really want to do is write a book. Interestingly, I’ve discovered that books don’t write themselves. I just haven’t been able to find the time to write it. I needed to find the time.
I also really wanted to get more exercise into my day. I stand all day at work, and as a result, I’m living with chronic foot, knee and back pain. I know that devoting more time to stretching in the morning is what my body has needed. Why haven’t I been doing it?
One of the reasons that I’ve been struggling to find the time to write and exercise is that my current living situation doesn’t afford me much privacy. For the past three months or so, I’ve been sleeping on a friend’s pull-out couch. The challenge is that I only have privacy until about 7:00 a.m., and by the time I get home from work at around 8:30 p.m., I feel too tired to accomplish much.
My only alternative was to get up earlier—an option I dreaded even attempting. But, attempt it I did. And, so far, I’m succeeding with flying colours. Maybe I am an early bird!
Why I think 5:30 is working for me
I can tell my body likes this new schedule. I don’t know why, but I suspect it has something to do with my circadian rhythm. I don’t feel nearly as groggy getting up at 5:30 as I think I should, especially as a self-proclaimed night owl. It seems like that time just happens to fall within a phase of sleep from which it’s easier to wake up. So, I’m going with it.
I still don’t love the idea of getting up so early, especially because my body wants to go to bed at a ridiculously early time like 10:30 p.m. now. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d be in bed before 11:30 p.m. on a regular basis, but here we are.
Still, if it works, it works. It seems pretty obvious that I’m working with my body’s natural rhythm. I’m just going to have to accept that I’m not the night owl I thought I was. My body is going to have the final say over my mind on this one.
How to teach a night owl new tricks
Aside from the fact that getting out of bed is easier than it used to be and I have more energy throughout the day, there are three main benefits that are motivating me to stick to this new early bird schedule:
- I have the time to do about 15 minutes of exercise before breakfast (a few Yoga stretches and a simple 13-pose exercise routine for my hips and knees), which is already alleviating some pain.
- I’ve finally returned to the small “witchy” morning ritual I used to do, or at least a variation thereof—lighting a candle, saying a prayer and some affirmations, and reading a few Tarot cards—which is bringing some much-needed comfort to my soul and clarity to my mind before my day begins.
- Perhaps best of all, I’m getting an hour of writing done every morning, which is allowing me to finally start writing my book.
There are “carrot” and “stick” aspects involved in getting this donkey—after all, I’m a (former?) night owl and a stubborn donkey—to change her ways. If I get up early, I get to do more of the thing I love most—writing. I also get less of what I don’t want: knee pain and neuroticism. If I don’t get up early and just rush to work like I always do, I get the “stick”—more suffering on all levels.
We change when we really want more of something or less of something else. We just have to want it badly enough, because change is difficult. In my case, I wanted to get out of a deep rut that was keeping me from my creative goals, peace of mind and physical health. I grossly underestimated the extent to which getting up earlier could change my life.
I don’t know if I’ll be able to stick to this new schedule, but I hope I can. I’m ready for this change from night owl to early bird. Who I thought I was before is far less relevant than whom I’m discovering myself to be now. Perhaps this will be my mantra for 2023.
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image 1 Chräcker Heller; image 2 NoName_13; image 3 Jill Wellington
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