Archive for January, 2014
For as long as I can remember, I haven’t been a morning person, preferring to stay up late over prying my heavy head off the pillow in the cold morning. I’ve been a night owl most of my life, with some of my best work and inspired thought happening after 10pm. Throughout the years, I’ve been following the growing body of research that points to night owlish (or ‘larkish’) as a genetic trait: there’s apparently a specific genetic variant that can indicate whether someone is a night owl, a lark, or somewhere in between the two. Unfortunately this indicator wasn’t included in my 23andMe genetic profile a few years ago so I’m not sure where I fall on the continuum.
But even if I knew where my genes wanted me to be, there isn’t much I (or most of us) can do about societal, professional, or family pressure to wake up early. Every single day, one of our kids wakes up at or before 6:30am. At least 3 or 4 mornings per week I need to be out the door by 7:20am for school drop-off prior to a can’t-miss 8am meeting. And when I get home at night, by the time I’ve eaten dinner, cleaned up afterwards, spent time with my family, and put the kids to bed, it’s already after 9pm. So in order to do anything beyond “the basics” in life – including strength training, meditation, writing, extra work, or anything else – I have a simple choice: I either do it late at night and suffer the next morning, or I get up 30-60 minutes earlier. I choose not to suffer.
Now, for a night owl, the thought of waking up earlier than 6:30am is anathema. But for the last several months I’ve been doing it, and not only has it gotten easier, but I’ve ‘dialed it in’ to be a habit that I feel has dramatically improved my overall well-being, productivity at work, and presence at home. These days I’m up at 5:45am to drink a cup of loose-leaf green tea and get a focused kettlebell or bodyweight workout in – or some dedicated writing – before my kids wake up and the house starts buzzing.
I’d be lying if I said the transition was all kittens and rainbows. It was actually quite hard, and is still not without its challenges occasionally. But I’m consistent about it and am determined to make it work. Oddly, on the days I “sleep in” until 7 or 7:30am I don’t feel quite as right compared to those when I’ve gotten up and have broken a sweat before the sun rises.
Here are the ways I became a morning person and how you can too.