My whole life I’ve been a night owl. During the middle and high school years, I would hit my creative groove somewhere around 10PM and sit hunched in my bed, scribbling furiously into notebooks until 1 or 2AM.
As an adult, it’s not much different. Though I might not be writing until 1 or 2 AM every night, I certainly get my second-wind around 10PM. Once midnight hits, creativity blooms. I want to finish all the random tasks I’ve left undone from throughout the day; I want to start a new story; I want to finally organize all those pictures I’ve been meaning to consolidate for years. I want to purchase plane tickets and start a family. I CAN DO IT ALL IN THE WEE HOURS!
It’s like my To-Do list in the wee hours is a single-celled organism multiplying endlessly, simply by dividing in half and floating off to find more of its newly-spawned kind.
And for as long as I’ve hit the creative stride in the nighttime hours, is as long as I’ve struggled with waking up in the morning.
Some people are natural morning people. I am NOT.
Let me repeat this–I DO NOT ENJOY WAKING UP EARLY.
I’m not one of those crusty colleagues who rolls into work at 8AM, bleary-eyed no matter what, and denouncing the fact that “mornings exist”. Trust me–I’m not that type of averse to mornings. I can make it to early morning obligations just fine.
The problem is the waking up part. Like, it physically PAINS ME sometimes to wake up if I haven’t snagged a solid 7-8 hours of sleep. But if I’ve gotten my fair share? Totally fine to wake up…provided it’s not before 7AM.
But these days it’s been more of the painful kind of waking up, and it’s been downright confusing. I listen to my body, and when it tells me to sleep more even though I’m getting what I assume is good sleep, I listen. I notice. And I wonder what the hell is going on.
International travel tends to take a certain toll on me. Multiple late nights/early mornings tend to require a solid sleep-in day somewhere down the line.
But recently? I’ve been getting to bed by 12:30AM most nights, and struggling to wake up by 9AM. What’s the deal here?
It’s a perplexing situation that makes me feel like a total loaf. One of my best friends, Heather, and I frequently update each other on the status of various bodily functions and biological systems, so this came up in a conversation recently.
I mentioned that despite allowing myself seemingly enough sleep time, my body still wanted to sleep way past 9AM, even though I was getting into bed around 1230AM. It seemed like, if left to do its own thing, my body would wake up (and crawl out of bed and leave my head behind, because the way I’m describing my body sounds like it acts of its own accord) at 11AM. WHY DO I NEED MORE THAN EIGHT HOURS OF SLEEP?
I also mentioned that every day, I get woken up with Jorge at 7:30AM as he prepares himself for work.
Upon reflecting further, I realized that historically, when I get woken up before my proper wake time, I seem to then sleep much longer than I wanted or even planned. But if I can sleep all the way through, I’ll only need roughly 8 hours.
Was there something to this? Heather did a little savvy internet searching and came back with this: THE SLEEPY TIME CALCULATOR.
This site will calculate what time you should wake up, based on your bed time (or vice versa) in order to obtain full sleep cycles and wake up feeling more refreshed.
What I found out from this calculator is that if I’m going to bed at 12:30AM, I should be waking up at either 6:30AM or 8AM. Waking up at 7:20AM, like I have been with Jorge, is kind of smack dab in the middle of a sleep cycle. And, as it says on the site…
sleepyti.me works by counting backwards in sleep cycles. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle leaves you feeling tired and groggy, but waking up in between cycles wakes you up feeling refreshed and alert!
Ah-ha! This may be the reason for my extra-sleep-needing, and not, as I had feared, a strange and pernicious symptom of an upcoming rare disease that manifests by total morning sloth.Armed with knowledge and a buoyant sense of wellness, I checked the calculator to see what time I should go to bed from now on. If I want to wake up with Jorge in the morning so that my sleep cycle is not interrupted, and then catch one more cycle just for shits and giggles once he’s off to work…Sleepy Time Master recommends that I go to sleep at 11:50PM OR 1:20AM.
My night owl innards are rejoicing, and science supports my need to stay up later. See, world? I can’t go to bed at 12:30AM. Pff! I’ll interrupt my sleep cycle in the morning!
And if there’s one thing I don’t want to do as I’m nearing 30…it’s fuck with obtaining my 5-6 recommended sleep cycles per night.