This post comes as the answer to Today’s daily prompt, Early bird, or night owl?, and is actually something I have long wanted to write about.
Ever since I can remember, I was always the first one to get up in my family. Or probably around the same time as my mother and grandmother. Meeting both of them in the kitchen at 5 am used to be our morning ritual. Perhaps it is in our genetic code to wake up at crazy morning hours but I am and will forever be grateful for this habit.
Simply put, I feel that the earlier you wake up, the longer your day is, and the more you can do.
Waking up before the sun rise or being woken by the sun rays in the summer is probably the best feeling there is. Opening the window, going out for a run when the entire town is still sleeping empowers you, makes you feel you own the world. And in a way, you do. You gain time and momentum and while you live, others miss it. At least this is the way I see it.
I will admit I am a lucky person. In order to wake up at 4 or 5 I don’t need to go to early to bed. I noticed that 6 hours a night is the optimum period that my body needs in order to properly function, but I can manage long periods of time with less than those 6 hours as well. My sister, for example cannot wake up until having slept 10 hours. I dread such an existence, but it is her biorhythm. I understand that there is nothing she can do against it and I get to appreciate more the fact that I resemble my mum and grandma.
I love this fact especially during holidays and summer. I get up, go to training or running, have a private class or do my chores and I call a friend of mine at around 9. Whomever I call sleepily answers and is annoyed at the fact that I woke him/her up. Though I am terrible sorry, I am exhilarated: I had just gained 4/5 hours.
This year however, there was a time when I couldn’t wake up anymore. I, who used to wake up at 5 with no alarm clock or earlier, with an alarm but feeling fresh and ready to go, could suddenly barely get out of bed at 7.30 to get to school or 9 during the winter holiday. I was distressed and terrified. I was suddenly tired all the time, felt I didn’t have enough time to do the minimum required, not to talk about extra activities and felt frustrated. I feared that my natural rhythm had changed. My friends joked about it, saying I was finally becoming human, but I was not amused. I wanted my time back.
In the end I realised it was only the fact that I was extremely tired that changed my waking up time. I had pushed the limit, sleeping only 3-4 hours a night for too long and my body could not keep up anymore. I acknowledged the fact that I had taken my ability for granted and that I needed to take better care of my body if I wanted to achieve everything I had planed. I realised there are moments when you need to pause and when you simply have to say you will do it tomorrow in order to better prioritise your tasks. I saw that my mum experienced the same change, not being able to wake up anymore, because of exhaustion. But my mum is 50 years old. I could not let this happen to me at 18. I knew I had a difficult year, being a senior stressed by college applications and my tennis, but there are harder times to come. Finals sessions in college, deadlines for work, there will always be tough periods and not enough time to do everything you want.
So, for the winter holidays I decided to simply sleep as much as I needed. Of course 2 weeks were not enough to get back all the missed hours, so I continued through the spring term as well. Yes, I missed a few deadlines and I didn’t get to do any extra activities. I didn’t get to read a good book anymore or watch a good movie, but it was necessary.
And even after a few weeks, I still wasn’t the same as before. I could wake up around 7 and not feel tired but only with the alarm. And I was still frustrated and a little angry with myself because of this fact. I knew you couldn’t rest at will but I wanted to be the same as before. the fact that I had no motivation didn’t help either. I went through a darker period when all I wanted was to sleep and do no work. I didn’t have a purpose. My application were finished and sent and there was nothing more I could do to influence my future.
I will not go on ranting about those months but jump to the end in order to remain on topic.
In the end I got my rhythm back. I wake up again at 5 without an alarm, fresh and ready to start another day.
But this was only possible after what was probably the best week of my senior year, a MUN I took part in, of which I will give details in another post. In short, besides sleep, what I lacked was motivation. And that MUN week in Budapest, gave me back my drive and desire as well as the capacity to work through sleep and tiredness.
With finals around the corner, leaving examinations in 2 months and college in 3, I couldn’t be more glad of being an early bird again, and look forward to more hours of being the only one awake, in my house, in campus, in town, preferably in the entire world.