I have never… sleep-trained myself


Until last week my weekday mornings looked like this:
My alarm clock goes off at 6.40 am. I know that I still have plenty of time to get ready. The bus doesn’t leave until 7.50. So, really, there is pleeeenty of time. I hit the snooze button, turn around and fall asleep again immediately. 5 minutes (which actually feel like 5 seconds) later, the alarm goes off again. I hit the snooze button again. And again. And again. Until it’s 7.10 and suddenly there’s not plenty of them left anymore. I crawl out of bed, grab some clothes from my closet and rush into the bathroom. Now everything has to go very quickly. I shower. I get dressed. Sometimes I notice that I’ve forgotten to bring socks, so I rush back to the bed room with bare feet and almost slip on the way because I didn’t take the time to dry my feet properly. Next stop: Kitchen. I start the coffee machine and pack up my stuff for work while the brown liquid is pouring into my mug. I gulp down the coffee while trying to make myself look like a bright and shiny human being, the ocassional burned tongue included. I realize that I only have 5 minutes left, so I quickly brush my teeth. I put on my coat and shoes while simultaneously leaving the apartment. Yes, that’s actually possible! When I arrive at the front door, I curse my neighbours for always looking it. I’m in such a hurry that I miss the keyhole a couple of times as I try to open the door. With the first step outside my morning jog to the bus stop begins. There’s only a minute left. I make it in time. The bus doesn’t – as always.

I’ve been keeping up with this routine for more than 1 1/2 years. On good days I managed to skip a couple of snooze-sleep rounds which gave me a few more minutes. On bad days I decided that it’s ok to show up late for work and took the next bus. I used to be a person who likes having some time to herself  in the morning before leaving for a busy day at work. But since my way to work involves a 1 hour commute, sleep has become more important. I’ve always needed a lot of sleep to be a fully functional human being. Without an alarm clock I can sleep for 10 hours without waking up. And it has also always bugged me to waste a great deal of my life on sleeping. This has become more obvious than ever since I’m working on a lot of things in my free time for which I don’t feel I’m having enough time. That’s why I decided to change something about my sleeping behavior. So for the past week, I put my alarm clock on 6 instead of 6.40 am. Here’s what happened:

Day 1: I’m so excited about this experiment that I wake up at 5.30. I wish I could get up already, but I can’t. That’s the rules. So I turn around and fall asleep again. When the alarm clock goes off 30 minutes later, I start my usual snooze-sleep-snooze routine. I have plenty of time. I really do this time. I manage to get up at 6.30 which is still 10 minutes earlier than the time I’m usually waking up. It’s a good start. I take my time to pick my clothes. I take my time getting in the shower. I take my time at everything that I’m usually doing in a hurry. And it feels great! When I’m done I’m a little disappointed that there’s actually only 10 minutes left until I have to leave. Not enough time to really work on my projects. Instead I sort my laundry, so I can put it in the washing machine when I get back from work. I also double-check my bag for things I might have forgotten to take. Then I leave. It’s not a perfect start. But it’s a start.

Days 2 & 3: I spend the next two days feeling like a zombie. Getting up early is not the problem. Falling asleep is. When my eyes are open, I feel terribly tired. But as soon as I close them, I’m wide awake. Knowing that I have to get up early the next day doesn’t help with falling asleep either. I actually don’t spend more than 5 hours sleeping which definitely isn’t enough and leads to me going to bed earlier than usual. I feel like missing the point here. Plus, the sleep deprivation makes it hard to concentrate at work. I’m feeling tempted to give up on this. But I won’t. I’m in this.

Day 4: A breakthrough, finally! I manage to get a fair amount of sleep and feel refreshed and energized when the alarm goes off. When I’m done in the bathroom, I have an amazing timeslot of 30 minutes left. I spend them productively and when I leave the house there are already a couple of items crossed off of my To Do list. All day I’m walking around with a great feeling of satisfaction.

Day 5: It seems like my body has finally adjusted to my new routine. In the end it was just like overcoming a severe jetlag. So what is the result of this experiment? I’ve posted this piece you’re reading right now 2 days ahead of my usual schedule. I think that’s pretty great. I just hope my body will remember all of this when the alarm goes of at 6 am on Monday.

So what about you: Do you have any habits that annoy you? Have you ever tried to change them?


One response »

  1. Yes.. a few month ago I started quitting the coffee before eating, surfing the web every morning and sleep half an hour longer instead, going swimming at least once per week, a little less beer and more tea instead – feel like having a fresh pair of rechargable batteries 🙂

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