Early Bird: I’ll Gladly Give Up The Worm If You’ll Just Let Me Sleep

IMG_0667My alarm clock hasn’t gone off all year.

It’s usually set for something like 5 a.m., but of late I’ve been finding myself awake—wide awake, unrecoverably awake, electrically awake—at about 3:30 every morning. I reach over, turn the alarm off so it doesn’t wake up my wife 90 minutes hence, and get up to start my day.

I would love to be able to go back to sleep, and sometimes I try, but it’s a wasted effort. I lie in bed and think about the things I could be doing if I got up, and I’m never able to drift back down into my dreams.

Waking up early does have its advantages. It gives me plenty of time for running (though, to be honest, there have been days when I’ve had too much time … days when I was able to talk myself out of going running;  some days it’s just best to get up and out the door before you’re awake enough to think about it). Ideally, it would be a perfect time for writing, but lately, at least, I haven’t really taken advantage of that opportunity. And sometimes, if it’s a deadline day, I’ll do some work, although I’m really trying to get out of the habit of doing work at home.

Sometimes I’ll check Facebook when I get up. But there’s never anything going on. Maybe I need to get some FB friends in Europe or Africa.

I’ve been most successful at reading. Which is good, because my usual reading time is before going to bed, and with my days starting so early, when I try to read at night, I’m so tired that I just get through a page or so before everything gets scrambled with onrushing dreams. Oh, to be able to maintain that tiredness throughout a whole night!

I suppose caffeine is one villain here. I do drink a lot of coffee during the day, although I really try to avoid it as much as possible after lunch. And for a while there I was drinking an energy drink most days at work. I’ve done it enough to believe there’s some real causation there — the worst nights of sleep are when I’ve had a lot of caffeine the day before. It sounds strange to blame caffeine: I fall asleep just fine, and it’s not until the middle of the night—at least 12 hours after I’ve had coffee or a Monster or whatever—that I find myself buzzing with electricity. I’m guessing that the caffeine has some kind of cumulative, delayed effect.

Someday, I’m going to do an experiment and try to do away with caffeine all together. If I survive even the first day, perhaps it will have a positive effect on my sleeping, and I’ll be able to stay in bed all the way until, say, 5 a.m. Stay tuned…

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