Alarm Free in 1 Week
Last Saturday I had the fortune to be woken up by one of my daughters at around 5:15 in the morning. After a few minutes putting her back to sleep I realized that I was fairly awake and it would take some time for me to go back to sleep. Because I knew that one of my daughters would wake me up before 7, I decided to stay up.
That day I had no side effects and even thought I felt a little better than usual. So I tried it again on Sunday by setting an alarm. Again the day went smoothly and I began to believe I was onto something. Being aware that the body has a natural circadian rhythm, I hypothesized that my daughter had unintentionally helped me to stumble upon my bodies natural waking time. I further theorized that because I had traditionally been forcing myself back to sleep at this time, only to be woken up un-naturally before the end of my next sleep stage, I was causing myself to feel more tired throughout the day. So I decided to continue getting up early….
Last week I left my alarm set at 5:30 but, almost unnaturally, I would wake up between 5 and 5:30. I couldn’t believe it and so I decided to make this a permanent habit with the goal of becoming alarm-clock free. Beside feeling better I believed it could help me improve three of my life’s priorities. First, by being the earlies adult awake I would get more time with the kids which I can use to further get to know and influence them. Second, by allowing my wife to sleep in every weekend I can help her get the rest she needs. This should directly translate into other feeling better and our relationship improving. Third, I will be able to use the extra awake and alert time in the morning to complete some of the volunteer work that is important to me. But could I continue, or was this just beginners luck?
The first test came on Thursday night, after I played soccer till 11:15 at night. As anyone who plays competitive sports will tell you, it is not easy to go to sleep for a couple hours after a game. Sure enough, I didn’t fall asleep to well after 1 in the morning and figured I would probably sleep right through my alarm. But I didn’t! Sure enough, I woke up at ten after five and got out of bed. Now I did feel pretty tired throughout the day, but not nearly as bad as I expected for having got less than 5 hours of sleep.
The second test came on the weekend. I knew this would be a critical milestone because I was already behind on my sleep, and we all know that weekends are associated with sleeping in. I made a concrete effort to go to bed a little earlier on Friday and Saturday night and was able to make it through the weekend.
I should make a quick comment on the side effects. On the positive side, I feel much more awake in the morning and generally throughout the day. Something else, that I did not expect, is that I feel tired differently. In the past when I felt tired it was a groggy, head throbbing type of tiredness. Now when I’m tired my body feels it but my mind stays clear. This could be a placebo effect so I’ll have to see if it lasts. There is at least one drawback though; I feel tired much earlier in the evening. I expected this because I knew that my body needs at least 7 hours of sleep. For me this isn’t too bad because its better in line with the rest of my family. I have not noticed a decrease in the amount of sleep required although I hope this will eventually come. Perhaps when our kids stop waking up in the night.
So here I am at work too early on Monday morning, having successfully got up 7 of the last 8 days without an alarm clock, and feeling as rested as ever. I’m not there yet, but having overcome the first two hurdles I am pretty confident I can continue.