Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waking Up

I think the hardest thing I do every day is

getting out of bed

I don't know about you, but I must be a night owl. I never want to go to bed. Once I'm actually in bed, I have a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep*. By the time I finally get into a deep sleep, it's morning and I'm supposed to wake up even though all I want is to drift back off into slumber. It's especially hard when winter comes around. There I am, snuggled in my warm cocoon of blankets. Why on earth would I want to leave that to undress in the cold air of the morning?

I don't think I'm alone in this morning difficulty, and I don't understand why humans evolved to have BOTH a hard time falling asleep and a hard time waking up. Searching the meaning for common trait within the principles of evolutionary psychology has eluded me. I can posture that being a light sleeper would have been beneficial for our ancestors who needed to be constantly alert to danger. But can you see any way in which being a heavy morning sleeper is adaptive, when our ancestors had a full day of food-finding work ahead of them?

Because when you think about it, how did humans EVER will themselves to get up in the morning before central heat (ie. most of human history)? I still remember clearly from my childhood Laura Ingalls Wilder's tales of waking up on the most frigid howling winter mornings to light fires, break ice in water, and feed the animals at dawnbreak. Not something I could do easily.

Oh yeah, and what about the days where all I want to do all day is go back to bed? Because this has been happening a lot lately. Does all this just mean that my sleep cycles are out of whack? I know exercising is supposed to help boost energy, but it is a bit of a catch 22 when I don't have the energy to go to the gym or do anything after work but drag myself back home and into pjs.

What gets you up in the morning? I know it's probably coffee for a lot of you, which strangely has no stimulant effect on me as far as I can tell. For me, it might be bagels. I eat them way too often, but a bowl of oatmeal just isn't enticing enough to make getting out of the house and into work mode seem worth it.

via flickr


  1. Oh Julia, I hear ya. I am SO not a morning person at all. I can stay up until all hours but getting out of the comfy warm bed is like torture. Last Friday, I had a sick day and I phoned my boss's voicemail on the Thursday night specifically so I wouldn't have to wake up early just to call him.

    I would love to meet the person who decided business hours would be 8.30-5pm just so I could kick him (because it has to have been a him) in the nuts.

    Coffee doesn't work for me either, only time. And no talking during that time. None at all.

  2. HAHAHAHA!! What a good point - why feed everyone so early? You have to wake up the digestive system first. I was suppose to get up at 7am this morning, I finally pulled myself up at 7:40 - awesome.

    Most mornings, I wake up naturally around 9am, but I feel bad about it - the rest of the world is already dressed and caffeinated. Not being a morning person, though, I feel it's my best option. Still, I cherish these days - perhaps one day I'll have to figure out how to get myself and a family up and fed! Ugh!

  3. Oh my gosh. Thank goodness I am not the only one. Sometimes I feel like people are looking at me all weird because my brain does not function until noon. I hate getting up in the morning. I tried all that counting my blessings thing. You know, "just be thanful that you CAN get out of bed/have a job/ can walk/ whatever". I am grateful. I am just not a morning person.
    My husband, a soldier, preaches that getting up early makes you feel better. I just want to strangle him with my sleep mask. (funny thing is... he sleeps till noon on his days off)

  4. Ok, so I know that there are Very Good Scientific Answers to all the questions that you pose but I'm too tired to remember them. I've always struggled with getting out of bed but 5 weeks ago I started seeing an acupuncturist and all of a sudden it's not so hard. Granted I'm in bed by 10pm every night but still, I'll take an awake morning over a late night any day.

  5. I hate getting up too. And I need at least 2 hours after I get out of bed to zone out, drink coffee, stare at my computer, before I actually hit the world.

    Here's the thing: Are you getting ENOUGH sleep? It took me a long time to learn that I need nine hours. I can get by on eight, but honestly I do better with nine. (And p.s. this does not make me a lesser person. F*ck the people who say they only need 5 hours of sleep.) Anyhoo, you might be having trouble getting out of bed because your body is trying to tell you something. Just a thought.

  6. Elise - if it were up to me, workdays would be HALFdays. no one works the whole time they're at the office anyway!

    meag - I often don't get up till 9am...hence why I'm late to work so much :-( And agreed i am so not ready to deal with the sleeplessness of childrearing anytime soon.

    Miz November - hm I never thought of counting my blessings to help get up, and I don't think it would work for me either.

    Peonies - that's so interesting about the acupuncture helping you get up. i wonder how that works.

    ESB - good point. i really *should* try to go to bed earlier on the weekdays. it just seems so darn depressing to get into bed so soon after getting home from work.

  7. I do not like waking up early. When I have the rare occasion of waking up naturally, without an alarm, I am a different person--a much better person. I'm convinced that I just need a lot of sleep, perhaps more than the average person. That being said, cold days are definitely more difficult. There is a crazy chill here in SF and I fear it's turning me into a hibernating bear.

  8. The worst is waking up in the dark! So depressing.

  9. Who knew esb was my husband?

    It's true; some people need a ton more sleep. Consider what you're eating too. Carbs (bagels) are natural relaxants. Maybe you should try doing them later in the day and protein in the morning to give you energy. Diet-crazy people probably think this is the worst idea, but I tend to not trust those people anyway. ;)