I’ve been hesitant to write this one. This month, I set a goal to blog every day as a way to focus on my mental health. I’m honored so many of you have read these ramblings and I love the community that’s been created in the comment section. I don’t want anyone to feel pain or anxiety, but there’s a weird comfort in knowing others wrestle with the same things.
I hoped this self-inflicted assignment would force me to take a hard look in the mirror about things I can actually control. I may not have control over the way my brain is wired, but I have the power to go to bed earlier.
Let’s start by saying: I was never a morning person. Motherhood forced this on me, for sure. In my 20s, I worked evening shifts as a new reporter. After the 11pm news, all the reporters from the competing stations would meet at a bar. (It’s how I met Penn!) We’d stay out as long as they would stay open then I’d wake up at noon. I loved those long nights and waking up when others were having lunch.
Then ::cue the ominous music:: we had kids.
It turns out, kids don’t sleep in. Hell, kids don’t sleep. One of the biggest triggers for my bout with postpartum depression was the pure lack of sleep. I learned quickly to rest whenever I could. After months (and months) of sleepless nights, eventually we got the kids on a schedule that involved a 7pm bedtime. It was glorious. Others would be tempted to stay up at night just to have alone time. Me? I happily pulled the covers over my head by 8pm.
Now, while others have FOMO, the Fear Of Missing Out, I have FOMS: The Fear Of Missing Sleep.
I covet sleep. I have become the person who will not attend a dinner if the reservation is after 8pm. Now that we are the parents of a tween and teen with active social lives, we’re doing pickups from the Friday night football game or after a movie with friends at 10:30PM? What in the fresh hell is this? I’m told that soon they will stay out even later. I have concerns, not for their safety but for my own sleep quality.
Becoming An Early Bird
In the beginning of this post I said I was reluctant to write about this. I know that my mental health depends on enough sleep, but to fit in all the mental maintenance items I’ve added to my toolkit, I have to wake up earlier.
It’s become abundantly clear that my day goes better if I meditate, journal, and exercise before starting my mom and work duties. But to do that, it requires the alarm clock to sound at 5:30am. I know this wakeup time is not as early as a school teacher, a nurse, or many people. But for this recovering night owl, it was a struggle. My 24-year-old self is dying inside.
Here’s an honest review of how it’s been going:
- I’ve not hit the mark every day. On nights that have required me to stay awake past 10pm (the horror) I skip the alarm.
- It was ROUGH for the first week. I would wake up, then fall back asleep meditating. I would write about three sentences in my journal and move on.
- By week two I started not to dread the alarm clock. My body needed to get to bed earlier so the kids started tucking me in around 9pm.
- I’m now well into week three and it’s shocking, but I’m waking up before my alarm. The past three days I’ve been awake at 5:25. What is happening to me?
- The early morning workouts have been spotty. Since the pandemic, I’ve adopted home workouts. It’s hard for me to feel like I’m getting a quality workout at 6am knowing I have to be showered and ready by 7-ish to get kids out the door. I think ::gasp:: I need to set my alarm for 5 to give myself time to be alert enough for a workout.
It’s so annoying, but it’s really improving my daily life.
I’m getting a chance to focus on myself before the demands of work and family. My mental health requires me to be a little high maintenance but I think I’m worth it.
So riddle me this: The people who get amazing workouts early in the morning, how early are you waking up? Right now I’m muscling out a 30 minute Peloton ride or some strength exercises, but I don’t feel like I’m even awake enough to have an impact.
Also, how much coffee are you drinking?
Be well friends,