The Early Mornings

I have always been one of those individuals who doesn’t like sleep. OK, it does make me feel better, and generally is a good way to put distance between yourself and a shitty day, but my appreciation of it lies purely on a functional level.

As such, I don’t ever “lie in”. I don’t know what such a thing is. For me, there is an optimal amount of sleep, and it lies somewhere between 7 and 8 hours, and that’s it. When I’ve reached it, I’m awake, and can’t go back to sleep. My brain gets restless and agitated, and starts stressing that any longer does nothing for me, and I could be getting on with a, no doubt, busy day.

I used to get by on a lot less sleep when I was in college, regularly surviving on 6 to 7 hours, and it made no difference to me. My theory of sleep is that your body adjusts to whatever you throw at it; as long as it’s not regularly under 6 hours, you’ll live, and not suffer too much.

This attitude to sleep is what I call “pragmatic minimalisation”. Sleep, once its brain optimisation functions are completed, is a barrier to life. Taken to its extreme, I would sleep as absolutely little as possible. But I recognise that would cause me harm over the medium and long term. Hence “pragmatic”. See, I don’t just make shit up.

This approach is now ruling my modern life, but in a brand new way for me.

The new life pattern has become starting every day at 5am. Yes, 5 o’clock. I have always loved the early mornings, but this is quite something. Since about November, I have decided to get up at this crazy hour… and not really for any apparent reason. I live 15 minutes from my place of work. I have no reason to do this. I could realistically get up at 8am, and still get into work for 9am.

But that needs to be put in context. I work for myself. I also work for another business, which I’m a director of. Both of these jobs require immense amounts of my time and concentration. And they are exhausting, frequently involving work beyond the “traditional” 5pm finish of most other businesses. And, my IT business generates hassle at all hours of the day. Even when I don’t answer the phone, I still get angry when someone calls me at 7:30, 8, 8:30pm… it still makes me think of work, and wonder what it could possibly be. This is painful, and can go on and on, even after I’ve gone to bed (between 9 and 10pm) on some unusual evenings.

Except. Except there is one time of day when people don’t call me. Ever. Mainly because they are safely tucked up in bed.

And that’s the early morning.

I can safely say that I have never received a call from a customer between 5am and 8am. And even then, the number of calls between 8am and 9am is extremely low, relative to the rest of the day.

This creates an incredible respite. A time of the day during which I know I will not be distracted. A time of day I know names won’t appear on my phone, or the adrenaline rush of the office phone ringing will send my concentration out the window. I haven’t had this for some time. Other people can get home from work and switch off, knowing they are done for the day. But I can’t. The e-mails keep coming, the phone can keep ringing, the texts do flow.

Yet none of that happens in the morning. It means that from 5am until pretty much 9am, I can, and often do, do my own thing. I like to get up and make a cup of coffee, something I have never done in my life. I can feel relaxed, and not rushed in the morning. I can even put some washing on, do some cleaning, listen or watch a TV or radio show I’ve missed.

But more often, I can do a little bit of work, knowing that I will be able to knuckle down for 1 to 2 hours, without distraction, and get it done. This can give me an incredible sense of achievement. Which makes me feel like the day starts well, and hopefully carries on that way. OK, it invariably doesn’t go that way, as the ceaseless calls and e-mails during the day push me in dozens of different directions.

But at least I get a few hours of me time.

I like it. And now the mornings are getting lighter, it’s only going to get better towards the spring and summer.

We’ll see how long it lasts…


Early To Bed, Early To Rise

These days I go to bed at about 10:30pm, meaning I get up between 6:30am and 7:00am. During the week that’s not much of a problem, as my mum and dad are up, as are my brothers and sister. Everyone has somewhere to go and something to do.

At the weekends, or at holiday times, the problem is that I am up, like now, and have nothing to do, no one to speak to. Just sitting at my computer in the loft trying to keep quiet. Right now that’s difficult due to the endless tapping of keys…

In the past six months, though, I have taken something of a vow to get fit. Though I’ve done not much about this in terms of outdoor activity, every day I do about 150 situps, 50 press ups and a number of pull ups on the stairs. It’s not exactly good aerobic exercise, but, I have no doubt about it, it has made me fitter and more muscular.

The only problem is that all of these enhanced muscles are at the top of my body. My legs are just as wobbly as before.

So the idea struck me. Well, it’s not much of an idea as I tried it two years ago and ended up losing interest. But, perhaps I could spend my time on these lonely mornings going out for a jog. The weather’s nice, it’s not slippery or frozen… what better time could there be to do it?

This morning I actually did. I managed to run for 13 minutes. I could have gone on for longer, probably, as I wasn’t totally shattered, but I think you’re supposed to stop before you reach exhaustion anyway.

13 minutes running isn’t exactly far. But last time I did this running I could only manage between 8 and 10 minutes. So there has been some progress, and all without me really trying.

I’m happy with that. If I can stick with it, doing this run at least twice a week, trying to make it a little bit longer each time, I will surely achieve my goal of being much more fit and healthy.

The only downside is that in recent months I have noticed just how much hungrier I am. It takes a lot to satisfy me now. A hell of a lot. I’m eating more healthily too, but, somehow, a jacket potato and salad just doesn’t do it. It’s gotta be two jacket potatoes. With beans and coleslaw.

I obviously need it though as my weight hasn’t changed in months, hovering around 65kgs. But more food = more cost. And as someone who still isn’t earning anything (much to my despair) that is hard to justify.

But, as a morning person, and with the much brighter mornings now that we’re finally getting spring-like conditions, I like my new regime. It makes me feel happier, and if it gets me fitter too, then at least there will be one part of my life that’s going right…