The Early Morning Wake Up Experiment
It was Steve’s idea, but I’m so on board. We agree on a 7am wake up call for one week. (Steve sets his alarm for 6:57am and immediately jumps out of bed to shower. I set my alarm for 7am and hit the snooze until 7:10am, then slowly roll out of bed, put my glasses on, and continue to wear my pajamas.)
I realize that 7am isn’t exactly early for most people. But it is for me. I’ve worked nights my entire adult life. I’m not even home yet from work when most people are going to sleep. Now that I’m only working at the restaurant on the weekends, it’s still hard to wake up early during the week, just because I’m not used to it. Also, it’s really easy to sleep in when you don’t have to be up for anything.
We start on a Wednesday and head to bed relatively early on the Tuesday before. Since going to bed early and actually sleeping have little to do with each other, I fall asleep after midnight.
Steve and I live on the 11th floor of our building. There’s free coffee on the 8th floor Monday-Friday from 6-9am, so usually what happens is, Steve sets his alarm for 8:45am and goes down to get us coffee before it closes. After he comes back, I eventually wake up to enjoy my double espresso (I fill the rest of the cup with almond milk because they don’t have any on the 8th floor).
This week is different. By the time Steve showers and I put clothes on, we’re ready to head down together at 7:30am. There’s a lot of stuff on the 8th floor besides the coffee bar. Outside is the pool, tennis/basketball court, ping pong table, grills, and a bunch of outdoor seating. Inside are multiple areas for lounging and doing work, a couple pool tables, shuffleboard, a computer room, and a fitness center.
As we head to the coffee bar, a few people dressed in sweaty workout clothes get on the elevator. I turn to Steve.
Oh my God, those people already worked out. Steve can’t help but roll his eyes. “Yea, most people have to go to work.”
I know. It’s crazy.
We order our drinks and find a place to sit. It’s quiet. If any people are here, they’re sitting at the coffee bar. We sit away from the bar, by the window. I write morning pages in my notebook while Steve reads a book on his kindle. After about an hour, we refill our coffee and head back up to the apartment. I can’t believe how much we’ve done and it’s only 8:30am!
Day 2, when I wake up at 7am, I find it very hard to believe that it’s only Day 2. Haven’t we been waking up this early for at least four days?? Weird.
We didn’t give ourselves any restrictions on drinking this week, but we’d be fools to get carried away when we know we have to get up early. So we opt out completely on Wednesday and Thursday.
Today is Friday. I wish I had something to motivate me to get up as soon as my alarm goes off. Something to look forward to. It can’t be coffee because coffee is available until 9am. Maybe just the feeling of being up early. There’s something about it that I like. It’s quieter. The sun shines differently. It’s the start of the day and anything’s possible.
I never wake up immediately. Brushing my teeth and putting on fresh clothes helps a little. Opening the blinds is a big one. All I need is sunshine. When it hits my eyes, I’m awake, and I wonder how it’s ever difficult to wake up.
I’d say 8:30am is my typical wake-up time. Or maybe 9am. Or 9:30am. But I’m liking this 7am thing. I get more writing done in the morning. I feel more accomplished by the afternoon, and I’m actually tired by 10pm – something I’m definitely not used to. I’m still having trouble falling asleep, which is annoying because I’m so tired and I know that I have to wake up by 7, but still, I’m getting at least six hours of sleep.
The weekends are always more difficult because of work. Steve knew I’d have a long night at work on Saturday, so he encourages me to sleep in a little. I don’t want to cop out of the experiment, but it’s very easy to be persuaded to go back to sleep in the morning when I’m only half-awake, so I drift off until 8:15am. We go for a very long walk at 11:30 – we must walk for almost two hours. It’s a gorgeous day, and we love to enjoy the nice weather, but I am so exhausted when we get home.
By the time I get home from work around midnight, my feet and shins are killing me. Steve is ready for bed, but there’s no way I can go to sleep right now. I’m hungry and I want to wind down, i.e. wine and TV. I wish I’m not so hungry when I get home and I wish I’m not so wired. But I am. I drink two glasses of wine, eat salami and crackers followed by Cheez-its, and watch the first episode of West World. I go to bed just before 2am.
This was not part of the plan. I’m disappointed in myself. I wake up Sunday at 9am. Head to a 10:30 hot yoga class. It feels amazing and I feel so much better. If only I didn’t eat and drink late, and then sleep late. I try not to beat myself up. Working nights at a restaurant is so detrimental to my healthy habits. It’s not an excuse; it’s just something I need to work on.
I work from 1:30-9:30pm, get home around 10. Again, I’m hungry and want to wind down. It’s a little earlier than the night before, so I at least have that going for me. I eat some leftover vegetable lasagna – not too much – and drink two glasses of wine while Steve and I watch a documentary.
We head to bed around midnight. I think I’ll listen to my book, but when I snuggle up to Steve to say goodnight, I end up falling asleep in his arms, with the lights on.
Monday morning, Steve’s alarm goes off at 7am. I can tell that it’s going to be easier for me to get up this morning – not as easy as Steve, of course. He gets our coffee, and I’m up before 7:30. Not too bad. I’m happy with it and I love being up this early.
It’s going to rain all day. All field hockey games are canceled, which means our practice is canceled. Hurricane Irma is coming through. And by coming through, I mean some heavy rain and light wind. Good thing everybody in Charlotte stocked up on cases upon cases of bottled water (insert eye roll here).
Tuesday is the final day of the experiment. I guess this was more of a true experiment for Steve. He stuck with a strict 7am wake-up time for seven days. I kind of just got up earlier every day. Still, it was great. We both loved our productivity in the morning and going to bed early.
Moving forward, no more 8:30am alarms. It’s 7am Monday through Friday (which for me, really means setting my alarm for 7 and getting up at 7:30). On Saturday and Sunday, I’ll give myself little more leniency. I used to like working nights because I have always hated getting up early. School was the absolute worst. But now I’m really looking forward to the day when I don’t have to work nights as all. Because mornings are lovely.