There are many factors that have conspired to make me an early morning riser. First: a reliance on public transportation to get to and from work. I need to leave my apartment around 6:15am to catch my morning train, which means I am up at 5:00am on weekdays. Second: I have a dog who requires a morning walk, and who goes on that morning walk by default at 5:00am four days a week. His bladder and bowel schedule does not accommodate sleeping in on weekends, so it’s a 5:00am wake-up call on days off as well.
Lastly, I am on Adderall to help with my ongoing issue of chronic fatigue and sleepiness, and I take it when I wake up in the morning. Methamphetamines is a tremendous jolt to a sleep-fogged brain, so yes, within 10 or 15 minutes of swallowing my magic pill, I am as wide awake as 20-somethings clubbing at 11:00pm on a Friday night.
This bombastic intro might lead one to believe I resent waking up so early, even on my weekends, but let me dispel that misperception right away.
I love waking up early.
I know. I never said I was not insane.
But I do love being up early in the mornings. I have always been a morning person – even back in my teenaged years when I forced myself to stay up late and sleep in late because everyone else maintained that schedule. I often felt groggy and sluggish keeping those hours, which I did over the summer. During the school year, however, I fell asleep at reasonably early hours and I was up early… and I always felt more bright and alert as a result.
In fact, I can remember halfway through my junior year of high school, I switched from a 6th period algebra class to a zero period algebra class (starting my school day at the ungodly hour of 7:00am), and my grade went from a B- to an A+. I just function better early in the morning.
So why haven’t I always been an early riser? Well, part of it is my love for sleep. My favorite part of the day has long been bedtime because, to me, nothing feels better than stripping down to pajamas, taking out the (chronically painful these days) contact lenses, and laying down amidst the enveloping comfort of my sheets, blankets, and comforter. Awwwww… pure heaven. And when the alarm goes off the next morning, tearing myself out of that heaven is just plain, well, hell.
I also may be a morning person, but that does not mean I wake up and bounce out of bed like they do in the Folger’s commercials. I lumber out like any other zombie, crashing into everything between my bed and the bathroom, and looking like a science experiment gone horribly wrong. It takes a few minutes – and these days 30mg of Adderall – before I start to feel less like a decaying creature from The Walking Dead and more like an alert and intelligent human being.
So, until Charlie came along and literally forced me to get my lazy butt out of bed at 5:00am every day, I fought my morning person-ness. I woke up early during the week for work; I was sleeping in on the weekends, gosh danged it. And even during the week. Yes, I am supposed to wake up at 5:00am to give myself enough time to catch the morning train, but ehhh… if I don’t pack a lunch, I can wake up at 5:15am. Okay, if I don’t shave, I can wake up at 5:25am. I’ll make the shower extra quick and just pull the hair back in a bun; now I can wake up at 5:35am. And so on.
But with Charlie, all of that went right into the pet waste trash can. If I don’t get up at 5:00am, Charlie will come and wake me up. So, now, it’s up at 5:00am every day and going strong, or up at 5:00am every day, and getting battered by my dog. I choose Option A.
Which has proven more beneficial than I would have thought considering how much I resent getting out of bed in the morning. Not only do Charlie and I start our days with a brisk walk through a silent neighborhood, where the only other living creatures we often encounter are skunks (!), but on weekends, I have found these peaceful early morning hours to be some of my favorites of the day.
It is so quiet and calm at 5:00am on a Sunday. I will brew myself a cup of coffee, settle back on my couch, and read for a good two to three hours before J wakes up. I will open the blinds on our patio door and watch the lights of morning start to shine – pink, gray, purple orange, blue. I can hear birds chirping and cawing out there, and the occasional breeze rustling through our plants.
It is the most peaceful way to start the day. Couple the coffee, reading, and brightening dawn with Charlie sleeping on my lap (how nice for him to fall back to sleep once his bowels and bladder are empty) and the quietness of the early morning, and I feel nothing but peace and contentment.
If it didn’t mean I would have to wake up at 4:00am on workdays to have the same experience, I would start everyday this way: coffee, an hour of quiet reading, brightening dawn, Charlie sleeping on my lap, and peaceful stillness of early morning.
But I will take what I can get, and I will relish every moment of it.
And this newfound discovery has not only reiterated to me the necessity of following my body’s own rhythms for a more healthy life overall (no more staying up until 2:00am for this gal), but it has also given me yet another reason to adore my precious Charlie. That’s why I can only smile when he starts pawing at my face at 5:00am… he knows what’s best for me.