“G’ mornin’, Sunshine.”
I repeat, Don’t sleep in.
And stay the hell out of the bedroom except for sleep-time. If we associate our bed with sleeping, that’s what we’ll do there. (Well, I’m not setting aside what else we can do in bed [*winks*], but right now I’m talking about sleeping.)
When we’re teenagers, we need a lot of sleep. Sleeping in is important.
But as we get older, we don’t need sleep as much. I could never understand how my grandparents could get up at 5:00 every morning. Looking back, I know why my grandfather could. He had to start the furnace or everyone would have frozen to death during autumn, winter, and spring. Grandma had to start the woodstove, no matter what the season, to get the kettle on and start cooking breakfast or everyone would have starved to death.
I don’t have a furnace or woodstove to crank up every morning, or a family to feed, but I am up at 6:00. I go to bed around 10:00 PM.
C’mon! Why Not Sleep In?
Sleeping in messes with our circadian rhythm.
What, pray tell, is a circadian rhythm?
“A circadian rhythm (/sərˈkeɪdiən/), or circadian cycle, is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. It can refer to any process that originates within an organism (is endogenous) responds to the environment (entrained by the environment).”
Roughly translated, this means that the circadian rhythm of owls and kitty cats for being awake is innately nocturnal (night), and the circadian rhythm of humans for being awake is innately diurnal (day). And this is why kitty cats like to go running around the house in the middle of the night, complaining: “I don’t understand why my people feel they have to be sleeping when there’s living to be done.”
So there’s a pattern to our lives then.
It’s innate for us to sleep for a certain length of time, and to be awake for a certain length of time. (NOTE: There are people who can function on only a few hours’ sleep. One of them is a good friend of mine who says her mother and her sister are the same, so it’s possibly (probably?) something in the DNA.)
If we sleep in, let’s say, for half an hour, our bodies will still want to stay awake for the usual length of time. That is, if we sleep in for an extra half hour one morning, we’ll be wanting to stay awake for an extra half hour that night. It won’t be as easy to fall asleep at our regular time (by the clock). And since our bodies are accustomed to sleeping for that certain length of time, we will want to sleep in for that extra half-hour (by the clock) the next morning.
Keep sleeping an extra half hour every morning? We will soon be sleeping half the day away and staying up half the night with the cat. (Not that being with the cat is a bad thing, don’t get me wrong.)
So What’s the Big Deal?
Our sleep habits are not only about sleeping. They also involve when we take our medications—which, by the way, I would think should be taken on a regular basis?
I take thyroid medication. I take it in the morning first thing. I wake up about 6 AM. If I wake up at seven tomorrow, my system will have missed an hour in there. If, tomorrow, I take it at seven, then the next day take it at six, won’t I be overlapping?
Think of a gas tank getting completely empty. This will include all the pipes and tubes leading to the motor. We can’t just fill up the tank and crank ’er up, we have to mess around until the pipes and tubes get filled with gas, too. Then and only then, will the motor start. Coughing and hacking and complaining as it does. (At least, motors in “my day” worked like that.)
What if we usually fill our gas tank with such-and-such amount of gallons as per our regular habit but it’s not quite empty yet. Oops. Gas will overflow all over the pavement at the gas station and if somebody passes by and flicks a match or a cigarette even close to where the fumes are a-rising… Yikes! (This latter take is intended to be an analogy for “overdosing.”)
So, smart-ass Sherrill, how do you manage to get up at the same time every morning?
I have a Lumie Bodyclock* that wakes me up in the morning like dawn would, by gradually brightening from about 5:15 (changeable by the user) until the alarm (annoying little birds), starts chirping at 6:00. The sound is changeable.
Here’s a picture of “My Precious”:
My Lumie Bodyclock
(I just cranked up the light now to take the picture so it shows 11:01 AM. Also, yes, that’s a toothbrush behind the Rottweiler figurines on the left. I’ll be using it later when I do my regular aquarium maintenance. Then I’ll put everything away until next week. Like a good girl. 😊 (I use toothbrushes for things other than brushing my teeth and cleaning aquarium filters. Watch for future posts.))
I almost always wake up before the little birds do and hit the button to ensure they don’t start chirping. (They’re annoying.) The light stays on.
Incidentally, the Lumie Bodyclock can be set in the evenings to gradually have the light dim over a certain length of time to trigger our melatonin supplies to kick in and help us drift off into sleep. I don’t use it. When I go to bed, I go to sleep almost instantly.
I think there are most likely other types of clock that do the same thing. I’m referring to the Lumie Bodyclock because that’s the one I use.
The lightbulbs will burn out eventually, but are replaceable. I always keep a backup supply of everything I might need. (Future post about that, too.)
In the rest of my apartment—because I have plants and a big-ass aquascaped aquarium in the living room—I have my lights set on timers. This is as much for me as it is for my earth-bound and water-bound plants. There’s nothing like heading out of the bedroom to the kitchen in the equivalent of broad daylight at 6:00 AM.
NOTE: When I did the search for “circadian rhythm,” up popped links to “circadian rhythm disorder” and “circadian rhythm syndrome.”† These are real issues for some folks and these conditions need professional help. But sleeping in and staying up half the night is normally by choice, so let’s stop messing up our systems like that! It can cause a lot of health issues that we tend to blame on Old Age. Poor Old Age. She gets blamed for darned near everything and it’s often our own fault when things start to go awry.
Get an Alexa and ask her to remind you of things “This is a reminder. Yo. Sherrill. It’s 7:30. You can’t stay in bed all day. Get your ass up and moving.”
I will be covering what I hope will be helpful ideas on waking up on time and going to bed = to sleep on time in future posts, as well as how to have a blissful sleep.
This week’s tip: Don’t sleep in.
Until next time.
*Lumie Bodyclock is available from the actual Lumie site https://www.lumie.com/collections/wake-up-lights as well as other places.
Illustrations from https://www.needpix.com/
Photos by Sherrill Wark
(I’m going to try to remember to include one of these offers each post. It’s a one-time use. So only one person can use it.)
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