Very Much NOT Up at Five

OK, that’s a pretty large image. I wasn’t even sure an animated GIF would even work there. But it did. So here we are. … Hehe. *cough* Anyway.

A few days ago I woke up quite early. Not something I do without a pretty solid reason, generally. Like catching a plane. Or hitting a work deadline (since I far prefer to go in early over staying late.) Or a new game release. Although that last one has lost its sway with me over the years. I’m gettin’ old(er). Time to leave those early releases to the young whippersnappers. … Although I’ll happily stay up to 3:00 or even 4:00 am. Get up at those times though? Or even 5:00 am? No thank-you.

If you gathered from this I’m a bit of a night-owl by nature, you’d be right. I wasn’t always this way though. I used to drive my parents absolutely batty with my inclination to be up at the crack of dawn. And I don’t just mean as a baby. It lasted a little longer than that.

Somewhere in my teens I think I lost that, electing to stay up late over getting up early whenever there was a choice in the matter. Like… I could clock up some pretty impressive hours in bed as a teen. Sure many of them would be awake and reading, but still.

Now I find myself somewhere in the middle. I head to bed at a somewhat reasonable (I think) 11:00 pm. Well, that’s the goal at least. I don’t always hit it, particularly in the weekends. But come morning whether I have to be up or not there comes a time when I just feel like the day is wasting away without me if I’m not up. Somewhere around 9am at most, 9:30 if I had a particularly late night.

Why Am I Telling You All This?


After that last post, and the comments from Isey I thought I might challenge myself to try adapt to an early morning routine. Look at almost any ‘THINGS SUCCESSFUL PEOPLE DO THAT YOU SHOULD DO TOO!’ type list, and you’ll inevitably find ‘Get up STUPID EARLY’ somewhere on it. Today was Day 1 of this challenge to myself. And as the title suggests — it was an abysmal failure.

I just couldn’t do it. My alarm routine has formed something of a bad habit. It runs something like this:

  • Set alarm for some highly aspirational time (while still balancing against not being murdered by my wife) — around 6am is safe for this. 6:30am if it’s a day off for her.
  • Groan when it goes off — set for a later time. Maybe 6:50-7:00.
  • Groan when it goes off. Sometimes sacrifice getting ready time for another manual snooze. Sometimes roll out of bed.
  • Once rolled out of bed (grudgingly, very grudgingly) trundle to the kitchen to make coffee if I haven’t sacrificed getting ready time. If I did, first coffee of the day becomes the number one priority upon arrival at work.

And that was my pattern for this morning too, despite all the best intentions upon going to bed.

It’s funny too — you’d think I might just try set the alarm for the actual wake up time of 7:00ish. But no. That doesn’t work for me. There is actually some psychological need I’ve crafted in myself to hear an alarm, then take another 30-40 minutes. Those extra minutes if I consciously know about them are incredibly important. But if I just sleep through them… then that first alarm is still quite a barrier.

Looking at things honestly for tomorrow — I think it’s going to be the same. I mean… I’m still writing this line, this very one, at seven minutes to midnight. And I had a V earlier. Silly decision? Silly decision. But… There was a new flavour. And I had to try! HAD TO.

…Well perhaps not. But I did.

So here we are… *twiddles thumbs*

…So yeah…I probably won’t be getting up early tomorrow, either.

I sort of know what I need to do. There is a setting of expectations the night before, reinforcing with myself that I’ll roll out of bed no hesitation at the sound of the alarm in the morning. Then beyond that there is the actual execution of it. Recognising that beyond any shadow of a doubt getting up early and at first alarm is going to suck. But doing it anyway.

I’m not prepared to give up too much of my evening in trade for additional time in the morning. But Isey says his typical bed time is still between 10-11pm, so I’m hopeful this is a place I can get to.

There was a period in the past where I did it regularly for the purpose of writing. I managed to form the habit, but then a change in life meant a change in a few other aspects of the schedule and it all fell apart. While I’d made a habit of it, the natural cadence of my circadian rhythm hadn’t changed it seemed, so I returned to my ‘natural’ state of late to bed, late to rise.

Day 1 was a bust. Day 2 probably will be also. Day 3? I guess we’ll see!


Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

12 Responses

  1. Honestly, I absolutely *hate* that ‘tip’. Get up early. Maybe that’s because I’m disabled and my morning routine is always dependent on how my sleep was. Like yesterday, during the night my right knee popped, and my left ankle was already hurting. What do you need when you’re injured? Rest. I need to wake up slowly and assess my body every time I wake up. There are days when I have to realign bones, joints, whatever, so even if I want to get up early, I can’t do anything because I’m in too much pain.

    I get that this works for some people, but definitely not for all. I read a lot about the writing processes of famous, not-so-famous, and prolific authors. The best advice I’ve heard is this.

    Find out what your productive hours are and make them sacred. If that’s early in the morning, fine. If that’s late at night, that’s fine too. Just keep those productive hours blocked for things you need to do. If you’re not a morning person, forcing yourself to be productive during the morning light will still give you lower results than when you try to do the same task during your productive night hours.

    It’s a nice experiment, but don’t get hung up if it doesn’t work for you.

    • Naithin says:

      Oh I’m unlikely to get hung up on it if it doesn’t work, don’t worry about that! But I would at least like to give it a good shot again. Once I’d got into the swing of it last time around (which would’ve been around 2013 or so!) I found it to be quite great. It is just such a huge mission to get there, and that is of course speaking as someone without any of the additional issues with joint contortion and pain that you do!

      As far as tips go, it is incredibly pervasive though. To the point there are almost as many articles on how to *become* more of a morning person as there are articles on ‘Things the super successful do that probably won’t make a difference to you, but hey, maybe they will? CLICK MEEEEEE’. ;)

  2. Rakuno says:

    Like Tessa I also hate that “tip”. It goes to the assumption of the “one size fits all”. As someone who has always been different in certain things I hate that kind of assumption.

    In my case, I am also a night owl. It started mostly because at night is when everybody was sleeping, the house was quiet and I felt more free to just do whatever I wanted. At certain point it just felt like I was more myself during those hours than during the day. Nowadays it is more a question of time zones, since my social circles are pretty much in the internet and most of them in the USA, that means having to adapt to that if I want to play games with them.

    It isn’t too bad since the difference is of about 2 hours with people in the EST time zone. If is Daylight Savings over there then it is even better as the gap lowers to 1 hour. But if it is Daylight Savings here then it can be brutal as the difference jumps to 3 hours. Thankfully there were no Daylight Savings here this year as they are testing to see if it helps anything. Probably the only good thing the current government did so far. :p

    • Naithin says:

      Time zones is certainly a factor for me, too. I have a number of friends now in Australia where their hours are between 1-3 hours as well with the various DST switches, so similar to you. Plus another friend who, while in NZ and thus my timezone, just insists on staying up til after midnight anyway.

      I’m typically pretty good at breaking away by 11pm regardless — although perhaps not so great with it *lately* which is something I’ll need to master again to really give this morning thing a shot.

      In any case — this does mean that once the family is asleep, that time becomes my gaming with friends time. And it’s a time I value enough that I wouldn’t sacrifice it even to take another shot at writing something ‘for real’. So if I’m ever going to do it — it’s going to be in the morning.

      And honestly? Once I broke the back of the morning thing last time I tried it (around 2013 or so) it worked pretty well! I acclimated, I thought at least, pretty decently within a week or two. But when the schedule got flipped around on me due to a change at work, it just all fell out the window.

  3. Frostilyte says:

    So…about that waking up and choosing to sleep another 30-40 minutes instead of just sleeping in – that’s actually a “thing”. I recently found out that choosing to do stuff like that in your morning routine helps to make you less miserable. If you’re waking up out of obligation to do something then it feels more like an unlikable chore. If you wake up, do your morning routine, and then choose to go to work it isn’t an obligation – it’s a choice. Or at least that’s how our mind unconsciously perceives the information.

    For what it’s worth I do something similar. I lay in bed listening to the radio with my eyes closed for 10-20 minutes to hear a bit of news, the weather, and some of the latest terrible pop songs. Taking the time for myself in the morning made me less bitter at work so it’s been a part of my morning routine (on weekdays) for the past several years.

    Though having said that I think I need to work on improving when I go to sleep. Doing 11 pm or 12 am to 6:30 am is going to put me in an early grave. Probably. Can’t keep sleeping for 10 hours on the weekend and pretending my weekday schedule is functional.

    Anyway, best of luck with your endeavor to change your sleep schedule.

    • Naithin says:

      I’ve been doing the set an alarm, wake up enough to consciously set another one, and revel in the pleasure of knowing I got an extra 30-40 minutes of rest (if not outright sleep, although it generally is) so long now that it’s hard to comment on the relative levels of misery involved with getting up — but it makes sense.

      There is certainly something of a conscious delight in knowing I have that extra time. It’s sort of the opposite of that feeling of dread when you wake up, look at the time, and realise you have mere minutes before you need to get up. That feeling is the *worst*.

      I think if I did the radio thing like you though, I’d simply fall back to sleep. I sleep easily and deeply generally, which annoys my wife to no end, who is the exact opposite. xD

      Thanks for the well wishes in any case, I’ll let everyone know how it goes!

  4. Jeromai says:

    I’m definitely a creative night owl, so getting up earlier to do stuff wouldn’t really work for me.

    But if you’re experimenting with getting up early and have some spare cash, consider trying out a light alarm clock. I’d developed a terrible habit of jerking up to some raucous sounding alarm clock, heart pounding crazily, hitting the snooze button and collapsing back repeatedly for power naps x 5 before finally, begrudgingly, stirring.

    I found when I switched to a light based alarm clock, waking up became a little less traumatic. I can still snooze twice past the sound alarm, but gradual increasing brightness just hooks into some primitive ape genes or something. Eventually the room gets too bright to ignore. There’s something to be said for the whole circadian rhythm thing.

    • Naithin says:

      I’d heard in passing of these light-based alarms (or ‘dawn simulators’ I think the fancy-pants marketing language goes), but never seriously considered investigating them for my own use. It’s pretty well established at this point that light (blue in particular) can destroy melatonin production for better or worse (depending on which end of your sleep cycle you’re exposed to it), but as I noted in the reply just now to Frosti, I’m a pretty deep sleeper.

      I just didn’t think it would ‘work’ for me. And on its own, it might not.

      But prompted by your comment, I did look into it a little more and there is at least some subjective evidence that suggests even if you ultimately rely on a sound alarm to fully rouse, the gradual increase of light while sleeping can improve wakefulness.

      Which makes sense on further reflection, I really struggle to arise in winter when it’s still looking near-night time darkness even at 7am.

      I think I will have to give this a go, I have some Amazon credit stored up even and I’m sure they’ll have a range to look at. :)

  5. I get up early because I have to be round my parents house, to let the carers and district nurse in. I found that I can do this but it has until recently been done grudgingly and hasn’t made for the best way to start the day.

    So I contrived to do some daily missions in STO that are on a 20 hour cooldown, so that they always became available roundabout the time I get up. I have found that waking up, getting on to the PC and doing a quick 15 minute mission, helps me get mentally set up for the day.

    • Naithin says:

      I wonder if this plays into what Frosti mentioned in an earlier comment, around how seperating the act of waking from the actual obligation forcing you to awake can improve your happiness about the whole thing.

      I would think it probably does, but either way I’m glad this is working for you!

      I’m not 100% sure I could do the same, mainly I think due to a lack of discipline around time spent. Or even if the discipline was maintained (more likely with my current age and mentality, I think, than it was back in the day) then it would be another direct interface between a thing I’d rather do and an obligation, powerful enough to create the same sense of ill-will that it would’ve had if I’d just gotten up straight to do it.

      …Maybe. I don’t know. It’s been a long time since I really let myself touch a game in the morning other than on a weekend!

  6. Bhagpuss says:

    I wouldn’t worry about it. It will change as you age whether you want it to or not. There are very good biological reasons why teenagers sleep until noon and old people get up with the sun.

    It also depends hugely on what time of the year it is, what your local weather patterns are, what you do – or don’t – have to do, the state of your health… If you’re comfortable getting up at nine am and that doesn’t cause problems with the things you need to do then why change your routine?

    In theory I’d like to get up as early as possible in the lighter months, when it’s sunny and there’s not much traffic and not many people around. everythig feels fresher and the possibilities of the day seem wide open. In the winter, when it’s dark and cold, I’d rather lie in. In practice, though, I tend to get up around 7-7.30 most of the time, having gone to sleep between midnight and half-past. On a lovely Spring or Summer day that does tend to make me feel I’ve already missed the best part.

    • Naithin says:

      A 9am wake-up is only possible for me in the weekends, I have to be up around 7am on a work day if I want to do my full routine (including a coffee).

      Although I’ve known for a long time that varying weekend and weeknight sleep patterns is a ‘bad thing'(tm) I’ve sort of always done it. But just doing a little more research now, off the back of these conversations, led me to a quote which actually resonates.

      “More important than when you prefer to get up is consistency in the timing of your sleep. If you go to bed and wake up later at weekends, you are effectively giving yourself jet lag – and when your alarm clock wakes you at 7am on Monday, your body will still think it’s night-time.” from a Linda Geddes, author of ‘Chasing the Sun’.

      The part that struck me in particular was the likening of the behaviour with inducing jet lag — week in and week out.

      In any case, weather and season can certainly be huge factors. Winter is a rough, rough time of year for getting up early. (Or just on time. lol)

      I wonder whether the light-based alarms that Jeromai mentioned might help with this also, though.

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