I'm not gonna lie...I love, love, love to sleep. I go to bed early, stay in bed late and take an occasional nap every once in a while. For the last few years I have come to believe that I am a night owl. This is primarily because I stay up until 10:30pm or 11:00pm in an attempt to complete as much as possible while the birds are in bed. Why do I focus on doing this at night? Because waking up in the morning for me is HARD! I am so tired in the morning even though I have been in bed between 8-9 hours that I will hit my snooze button over and over again until I have no choice but to get up and get everyone ready. As recently as a month ago, I had resigned myself to this sad, sad fate. Try to go to bed early, try to get up in time to get the boys off to school and myself to work and then nap whenever I get the chance (or splurge and sleep in AND nap on the weekends). Needless to say, sleeping and waking have both become really stressful to me. Which upon realizing this, got me to thinking...
It wasn't always this way.
I come from a family of early risers and as a child all the way through my teens, I had no problem getting up early. I can remember my friends in high school giving me evil looks in the morning and complaining that no one should have that much energy before 9am. I got a lot done and went to bed at a reasonable hour. I still napped though...(there are very few people in my family who don't nap.) Maybe that's a learned behavior, maybe its hereditary. I don't know. What I do know though is that I am tired of being tired all the time.
Over the years I have tried lots of different ways to try and get up early. I've prepped everything the night before so I can take as much stress off in the AM. However, this leads to my morning self using it as an excuse to sleep in. "Well you don't have to make any lunch now, or lay out any clothes so you can sleep in a while longer...go ahead...no one will judge you..." Except myself. I've even gone so far as to set up an alarm clock in the kitchen so that I would have to get up and go shut it off. Half way through the night though I woke up and started to worry that the alarm clock would wake up everyone in the house and I didn't want that so I turned it off. Sigh*
This sleep problem has lead me to do some research on sleep habits. While I have learned for the most part that sleep habits are largely determined by your genes, you can still gradually work your way into the time frame that you want. Here are a couple great links I found on sleep habits.
If you prefer reading to video check out this article from Espresso Science; Can a Night Owl Become an Early Bird? (click pic for link)
And if your a video person who can't stand reading check out AsapSCIENCE's awesome video about the differences between night owls and early birds. (But seriously, check them both out...)
So obviously I want to fix this. Because while some people might not see being a night owl as a "problem," I do. Mainly because I don't feel like this is my natural state of being. My reasoning for being one at this point is that through a combination of motherhood and going to school full time while working full time and being a generally lazy human being, I have progressed from my natural state of being into a more sluggish, depressing state. Not cool.
There are so many different articles and discussion boards out there about how to change your sleep habits. While they all offer great advice that work for some people, I have tried most of their suggestions and have still come up short. The only one I have not tried yet, but will be forced into once we move to Hawaii is the whole camping for a week thing. Researchers have taken people out into the forest with no electronic devices and had them camp for about a week. Afterwards, the participants sleep cycle has "reset" and they now get up and go to bed with the suns cycle. Camping for a week in the Pacific Northwest is kinda hard just because you can't really plan around the weather here and some weeks it feels as though we go through every single season known to man. So camping on our property in Hawaii while building should change things around for me. But...being the impatient person I am, I don't really want to wait that long to get a handle on things. So (que more awesome research) I found this amazing app for my smartphone that I both love and hate...it's a complicated relationship.
It's called "I can't wake up" and it is available in the app store on my android phone. Not sure if its available for you apple people or not...#sorrynotsorry. Basically it's an alarm clock on steroids. You set the time that you want to wake up at and then you set tasks you have to complete in order to turn it off. I know right...My inner early bird is all like "Yay! This will be amazing!" while my inner night owl is like "Are you f'ing kidding me..." I have used it twice now and let me tell you, this thing works! I have two tasks set for my alarm. First I have to play memory/matching with 9 different cards. They shuffle every day so they are never in the same space in a row. Once I match all the cards the alarm pauses for a couple of seconds and then starts again. My second task to complete is a barcode scanning task. I selected the barcode on the seasoning salt we have in the kitchen for this. I have to get out of bed, go into the kitchen, track down the seasoning salt and scan the barcode to shut off the alarm. I control the volume of the alarm when I set it so I don't have to worry about it waking up anyone else. Just me. And boy oh boy did I have a productive morning after using it. Below is what the different screens look like. There are 8 different tasks to choose from and you can set the difficulty range however easy or hard you want to make it. Click on the pic below to take you to the android app store to read more!
Have I fixed my issue. Probably too soon to say. But I am very optimistic that I am well on my way to getting my internal clock back into working order. Time will only tell. Until then...