This is one reason I could never have a 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. J-O-B; my brain likes to wake me up at random times whether I want it to or not. And it's one of those things where my body isn't ready to start the day...but my brain is already in full swing letting me know everything that I need to get done. And there is no turning it off! My brain literally has a mind of its own.
I used to try and battle with it by refusing to get up and just wind up tossing and turning for hours. In the end it would always win out. No amount of diffusing or rolling on lavender essential oil was going to quiet it or lull it back to sleep.
I finally had an epiphany on one of these early wake mornings - to just roll with it. And what I found was that in those dark, quiet early hours I was super productive. I actually got more work done before sunrise than during my normal awake hours.
What I realized was that my normal wake hours were filled with outside distractions from the people in my household and my own work was getting sidelined and marginalized. And for a creative being - that's not a good place to be. I found myself becoming increasingly frustrated and irritated. So at the subconscious level, my brain decided to take matters into it's own hands and began waking me up at random hours in the early morning and refusing to shut down. It offered up a viable solution - shifting my timeline around.
Adults need between six to eight hours of solid sleep time each day. Current sleep research is leaning towards eight hours being the optimal amount of sleep time. I have always been an eight hour person. Any time less than that for me is noticeable - I'm either a zombie or super cranky. (I'll discuss more about the importance of sleep in a future post.)
In theory it takes approximately five to seven days to shift your sleep pattern. Armed with this knowledge I changed and shifted a few things in my daily routine. The first thing I did was to stop drinking tea at 10 a.m. and cut the amount of black tea in my tea blends by adding green tea - which is lower in caffeine. After 10 a.m., I switched to drinking filtered water the rest of the day and added a flavored, unsweetened sparkling water with dinner. Then I shifted the time I exercise during the day making sure that I got my hour in a minimum of 90 minutes before I go to bed. And here was the biggest shift - I started going to bed 2 hrs. earlier. Instead of staying up until 11 p.m., I began going to sleep at 9 p.m. I found that was I wasn't very productive between 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. and my household was still up so even if I wanted to use that time to focus on my work...it rarely ever happened...and my energy was already spent.
It took me literally one week of being a zombie and forcing myself to go to bed at 9 p.m. (whether I fell asleep or not) and waking up between 4:30 to 5 a.m. (whether I wanted to or not) to alter my sleep pattern. I also began a new routine when I woke up. I started taking 30 minutes to have a quiet meditative time to clear my thoughts and reflect on the moment (practicing mindfulness). Then I began my day - clearing out my inbox, going over my calendar for the day, and getting my work done. By 7 a.m. - I was right on track to deal with my daily distractions. Now not only am I more productive; but I'm happier.
I do have to mention that it's not a rigid set-in-stone schedule. There is flexibility in it because, well, today my brain decided to wake me up at 3 a.m. and instead of fighting it; I just rolled with it.