Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Morning Update

So, I thought I'd write and give y'all an update on my efforts to get myself out of extreme night-owl-land.

You might recall that this past spring, I attempted yet again to reform my night owl ways using the cold turkey method. The experiment was more successful and longer lived than most of my previous attempts have been, but alas, as always, I fell off the wagon after a few months and found myself back in "up all night" mode. Sigh.


So, when Courtney over at Be More with Less wrote a post entitled "A Gentle Guide to Help You Wake Up Earlier" I eagerly clicked over to read it. Unfortunately, there wasn't much new information there, or anything I hadn't already tried about a million times, and the responses from the morning people about how wonderful and awake they feel in the AM hours made me a tad bit... um... well, let's say it makes me grumpy.


But, there was one little comment by someone named Inanna that really got me thinking. The gist of her comment was that instead of trying to make herself get out of bed immediately after waking, her strategy was to make herself stay in bed doing things like reading and drinking tea for an hour or so until she felt fully awake. Now... THAT is something I have not yet tried.


Further insight came when Dar over at An Exacting Life wrote a post about her daily schedule and how she goes about carving out time for herself. What really struck me about the post was that she allocates 7 hours for sleep - which incredulously includes the time for getting ready for bed, getting out of bed etc.

Somehow reading that made me realize that I just don't sleep the way most people do. I literally cannot remember ever sleeping straight through the night... EVER. Even as a child, I always awoke at least 3-4 times throughout the night, and that pattern still holds. It's not like something wakes me up, it's just that after each sleep cycle, I seem to just naturally wake up and then have to go through the whole falling asleep thing (which usually takes 15-20 minutes) all over again.

Somehow, I just never realized that most people, if they spend 8 hours in bed, they actually get 8 hours of sleep! For me, when I figure in the time that I spend awake each night, I need to spend about 10 hours in bed to get 8 hours of sleep. Hmmm... No wonder I'm just never able to make myself stick to the kind of schedules that most people keep!


So anyhow, all of the above gave me a new approach to the whole sleep thing.

First of all I've decided that I most likely cannot change the fact that I don't sleep through the night. I mean, it's been that way my whole life, I just don't think this is something that I can will myself to do differently. So I've decided that I just need to accept the fact that in order to get 7-8 hours of sleep, I'm gonna need to allocate at least 9-10 hours of time in bed. And really, I'm OK with that. So no more self-flagellation over how lazy I am!

And secondly, I've decided to give Inanna's system a try. I don't currently have a way to make tea in my bedroom, but I've started keeping my tablet by my bedside so that when I wake up in the morning I can just grab it & spend a half hour or so reading either news, blogs or an eBook.


I have to say that the difference this has made is nothing short of miraculous! I'm not sure if it's the light from the tablet that is waking me up, or the process of engaging my eyes and brain, or just the fact that I'm no longer beating myself up with internal statements like "Get UP you lazy bum!" but it has completely transformed my relationship with waking up.

So at this point my schedule looks something like this. CatMan and I generally get off the phone from our evening chat at around midnight. I'm trying really hard to start heading to bed right after we get off the phone. It usually takes me at least an hour to get there including time for my evening ritual and finishing up any chores that I've put off, but I'm generally making it into bed by 1-1:30.


I'm now just planning on waking up several times throughout the night. I usually get up once to pee while it's still dark, and once a bit after the sun comes up to open the curtains so the kitties can have their sunbeams. Then sometime in the 10-11 region I'll wake up "for real" grab my tablet and spend some time reading before I'm ready to actually face the day.

I'm under no illusions that it will completely "stick" this time, but I do have to say that this is the kindest I've ever been to myself on this topic, and if nothing else, it's really nice not to have to beat myself with a stick every morning to force myself out of bed!


I'm still mulling over the idea of making tea in bed. It sounds perfectly lovely, but will require the purchase of some sort of electric kettle or hot water device. Anybody out there have any experience with those things? Any features I should look for or avoid?


So that's where my reform plan currently stands, and I've gotta say that it's making the dark portion of the year much more tolerable than it would be if I was still on the up all night plan. Yay!



42 comments :

  1. It's funny, when I lived at my parents' house I used to sleep for eight hours straight...but for the last few years (since I have had to be a grown up, sigh) I have woken up during the night every night, I think. This is a combination of things-such as needing the loo and disruptive kitties- but I think it mostly comes down to the fact that I am now more alert to random noises (have the cats knocked something over? Is the dog whining?) so I think I sleep more shallowly and thus wake more. I miss sleeping all night! But maybe I just need to allocate more time to sleep...

    As for kettles, I've always just bought fairly cheap ones- though always the ones that hold a decent amount rather than the teeny ones, as the teeny ones I have encountered tend to spit water everywhere. At the moment though we have one that goes on the hob and whistles when it boils.

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    1. I'm sure the "on alert" factor is part of it for me... I've been a paranoid sleeper all my life - seriously, as a kid I built elaborate alarm systems to knock over cans etc if someone should open the bedroom door. I even had one contraption that used strings & pulleys to flip the light switch on! As an adult it took me years to get comfy enough to sleep with the lights off. So I suppose paranoia is one possible cause for my restless sleep. Hmmm...

      Anyhow, that's interesting about the teeny tea pots having leaking issues. Thanks for the input!

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    2. I did actually sleep all night last night I think- though I was woken early by cats! (Combined with needing the loo).
      I'd been to a yoga class just before bed though, which I think helped me to be both physically tired and mentally calm!

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    3. PS hope the Thermos/tea thing worked...I am a bit jealous as I want tea but must get out of bed to get it :(

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    4. Yay for yoga before bed! I actually haven't had nearly as much problem with night time worries as I used to. I think doing emotional work helps... you know, the boogeyman is really just my own feelings projected outward and all that.

      And the thermos worked pretty well... more thorough report below...

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  2. Get a Thermos and use it just for tea. At bedtime, preheat with boiling water, then add more boiling water and make tea. Carry off to bedroom and go nighty-night. Should still be quite hot by morning.

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    1. Gosh... it never occurred to me to try a thermos. I have a nice glass vacuum one that never gets used - perhaps I'll give it a go. I will be shocked it if keeps the water hot all night, but it's certainly worth a try!

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    2. That's what I was going to say. Judy has a good idea--use a thermos.

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    3. OK... I just pulled the thermos out of the storage room and I'm gonna give it a go tonite. We'll see if it keeps the tea hot!

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    4. Sooo, I tried the thermos and I'd grade it at a solid B. The tea wasn't exactly what I'd call hot, but it was certainly warm enough to enjoy. Of course, it was a bit of a crazy night. I probably made the tea an hour earlier than I needed to, and ended up getting out of bed multiple times to adjust the settings on the heat pump - so I didn't end up drinking it quite as early as I normally would have. Certainly worth trying again though!

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    5. And you did preheat the thermos with boiling water, dumped it out, then made the tea with fresh boiling water, yes?

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    6. I did pre-heat, but I just swished some boiling water around... I didn't fill it completely with water to pre-heat. Perhaps that was the issue? Also, to be fair, given the fact that I ended up making the tea at least an hour before I went to bed, and the craziness of the morning, it ended up being about 12 hours between the time I made it and the time I drank it, so considering that I think it did pretty well. I'll try it again tonight with better pre-heating, and hopefully better timing, and see how it goes...

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  3. Have you ever done a sleep study? It might give you some useful information. I had a friend who did one recently and found out she had sleep apnea. She is slim, fit and did not fit any of my stereo types for sleep apnea--overweight, male. As it turns out, lots more women have apnea than mean because of hormones. My son did one when he was younger and found out there were no major problems except his sleep hygiene as the doctors called it.

    I actually have lots of comments on your habits, but I'm sure that you've heard them all before. However, waking up at night is a classic symptom of anxiety.

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    1. Well... I have actually done 2 sleep studies - the kind where they wire you up and you sleep at home attached to a contraption that measures everything. But I seem to have some sort of a curse with them because both times I was never able to get the results! Seriously, it was like they'd say "call us in a week or so and we'll go over it" and then I could never get hold of them again! My guess is that this is because they couldn't get any meaningful data because both times I was incapable of falling asleep with all of that stuff attached to me, so I don't think they had any data to work with!

      Anyhow, I would love to hear your thoughts - even if you think I've heard it all before. Maybe there will be some little gem in there that I haven't yet considered.

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    2. I've written some ideas for you, but it is too long for a comment. Do you have a contact email for the blog. I couldn't find it.

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    3. Awwww... that's so sweet of you. You can email me at:
      ecocatlady at gmail

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  4. The thermos is a good idea. Have you ever heard of a Teasmade? It's a
    British gadget that combines an alarm clock and tea maker. So darn cute! But pricey.

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    1. Fascinating! I actually don't use an alarm clock as I consider them to be evil, but the idea of tea that makes itself is quite intriguing. The device seems to be unique to the UK though as all of the links I can find go to UK sites.

      Anyhow, we'll see how it goes with the low tech approach (the thermos) before I consider buying any new contraptions! :-)

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    2. I don't use an alarm clock either except on rare occasions like when we have to be sure to be up super early to catch a flight, but I might put up with one for a Teasmade.

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    3. I do have a small alarm that I use for such occasions too, but in general I just think it's unnatural to be awakened out of my normal sleep cycle and it tends to make me groggy all day.

      p.s. the thermos worked pretty well...

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  5. I don't have any advice to offer. Just love seeing how people are proactively working at habit change. I think you're on the right track.

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    1. Thanks so much for the vote of confidence!

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  6. Hey, Cat -- I don't sleep through the night, either, and neither did my father.
    My son tells me that in the early history of man, people routinely got up half way through the night, went visiting to their neighbors in the village, then returned home to finish off the night's sleep.

    I force myself to stay in bad, but I spend the time thinking productively about stuff, and don't worry about falling back to sleep.I used to stress over falling back to sleep, but now I just accept it, and the time I'm awake is actually kind of nice -- my me-time. My father used to get up for 2 hours in the night every night, read the papers and mail, then go back to bed.

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    1. Fascinating! CatMan and I were just discussing this last night. Here's a very interesting article on the topic:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Segmented_sleep

      Perhaps I'm not so abnormal after all! :-)

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    2. Very interesting article! I especially like the name bifurcated sleep. I have to say, I really enjoy that quiet hour in the middle of the night, when the rest of the house is silent. I think about pleasant things and plans for fun times, etc.
      Thank for the link.
      And it's really nice to have some validation on this. I've felt very odd for my sleep patterns for years!

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    3. And I can't stand alarm clocks either. If I'm startled awake I'm very grumpy -- ask my kids!

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    4. I am quite intrigued by this whole concept. When I think about it, I usually sleep fairly soundly for about 4 hours, then I sleep fitfully for the next hour or two waking every 30 minutes or so. But then I sleep soundly again from about dawn until the time I get up 3-4 hours later. Anyhow, there have been several books written on this topic so I think I may see if I can find one of them at the library.

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  7. I just read an article about this a few days ago on Salon.com. A sleep study found that many people had two sleep periods during the night of about 4 hours each. I rarely sleep through the night - maybe I will just quit stressing about it.

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    1. I think that's the same article CatMan saw. I found one of the books on this topic at the library so I'm eagerly waiting for it to come to my local branch! Maybe I'm not so crazy after all!

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  8. I like the thermos idea, but if that's not working, the electric kettles are supposed to be a pretty efficient way to heat water. I'd look for one that is stainless steel inside (rather than the old plasticky hot pot I used in college).

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    1. I've heard that too. I've been lusting after one for a while now since my old stovetop kettle has developed some rust patches. I was leaning toward glass, but stainless could work too. Too many choices!

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  9. I can't remember if I mentioned this book to you before, but it helped me gain more understanding of my sleep problems.
    The Insomnia Answer by Paul Glovinsky& Arthur Spielman.
    There are charts in it that you fill out each morning, and it is helpful in seeing your sleeping habits over a number of days

    I have a longstanding history of sleep problems.I use sleeping pills sparingly when needed and that can help get me back on schedule.
    Marieann

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    1. Interesting. I've never thought of myself as having insomnia since I fall asleep easily. I just can't stay asleep all night! But per your suggestion I have been making mental notes of when I wake up each night, and it's surprisingly regular. Only a few days worth of data to go on, but it's interesting none the less.

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    2. Oh! Cat, you must be much younger that me. Mental notes no longer work. Written ones are a must....but that is if I can figure out where I put them :)
      Marieann

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  10. From what I have read about sleep, I don't think anyone is in "deep sleep" aka REM sleep all night--it comes in waves. Sometimes I wake up, sometimes I don't. Related to some of the above comments ... when I am anxious about something, it's hard to fall asleep, and/or I wake up in the middle of the night and have a difficult time getting back asleep. Sleep issues, like many health issues, are related to what's going on emotionally inside of us ... anyway, I find, on those "bad" sleep nights, that the more I obsess about sleeping, the worse it is--I've learned to relax about it (for the most part!)--eventually I have a good night. Sorry to hear you've had bad luck with sleep studies. Sounds like the facility you went to has some issues ... they really should get back with you on your results! And I think everyone's body rhythms are different so that may have something to do with your night owl status. Good luck finding a solution that works for you!

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    1. Thanks Kris. It's funny, I don't generally wake up feeling anxious these days... and if I am anxious it's more that I'm anxious because I'm waking up rather than the other way around, if that makes any sense. But I'm sure there is an emotional component since we are emotional creatures after all!

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  11. Yes! So nice to hear this new system is working for you. What you've described is what sets my Saturdays apart from the rest of the week - I wake up and lounge in bed for about an hour, usually daydreaming, snuggling with a kitty cat, or reading. I look forward to it all week! My biggest obstacle is hunger, so I keep a little snack on my nightstand so my lazy Saturday mornings aren't cut short. :)

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    1. It's really transforming the way I think about mornings. It's almost like I've turned waking up into a process rather than an event, which is really, REALLY nice!

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    1. Thanks so much Dar! I was just about to say back atcha... but then I remembered that y'all celebrate it earlier than we do. So I hope your Thanksgiving was happy... whenever it was! :-)

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  13. Though this might be relevant to you https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPJ0729NVjw

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    1. Wow! That's fabulous! I've heard that it's genetic, but never with those specifics. My mother was definitely a night owl too, but not quite as extreme as I am. Of course, given my attitude about life & culture, I suppose I'm one of the few people out there who actually builds their life around their own schedule rather than the societal one - I decided years ago that I just wasn't willing to live in that state of perpetual jet lag.

      Thanks again for the link!

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