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…

 

Sleep Patterns

I was supposed to write something yesterday, and then this morning, and now I am forcing myself to write before I give up for the day. Finding time for anything these days is a real challenge.

Throughout my life I’ve had all manner of sleep patterns. When I was in secondary school I used to like nothing more than going to bed at 10 to listen to my radio. There was a phone-in on every night on a local station at 10 that I used to enjoy a lot. Pretty sad, I know, but I have always liked to isolate myself. I’d listen for an hour and eventually give up. Some nights I’d fall asleep with the radio still on, only to wake up at 2am to easy listening classics…

Then as I got a bit older, I fell out of love with the phone-in, mainly because the presenter’s views were the opposite of mine. And as my involvement with computers and the internet increased, so I would spend the evenings and nights there instead, reading and posting to forums. That turned into going to be at or around midnight, and getting up at about 7 for school.

Towards the end of school life, before I went to college, I started staying up till very late, maybe 2 or 3am, some nights longer, just because I could. I’d still get up at 7. I don’t really remember what exactly it was I was doing, but I stayed up and killed my sleep pattern. How I found the energy to do anything I don’t really know. But it didn’t seem to harm me. Not even the numerous all night sessions that I would pull at weekends, for no obvious reason other than I could.

As college arrived, I would have to get up at 6 every day to make sure I was out the house by 7. It would have made sense, therefore, to go to bed earlier, but I didn’t. I grew out of the stupid late nights, but still was going to bed at midnight. Sleep was for the weak, I used to say. You can sleep all you want when you’re dead.

University was a bit different. I started to value getting some more rest. I was still going to bed at midnight, but now I was getting up at 8am, or a bit earlier if I had a 9am lecture. In some ways, I think I added more sleep to combat boredom. When there was no one else around in the morning, and nothing to do, you might as well sleep until you’re needed.

But I’ve never been one for a lie-in. In fact, I can’t do it. Biologically, I wake up. Even if I went to bed at 2am, my body wakes me up at the usual time, and often feeling OK. So I usually get up. These days I don’t even try to force myself back to sleep.

Uni changed little. There was no need for super early starts.

Life has also been the same. Midnight finishes, 7:30am starts. Pretty good.

Until recently. Now I am in a pattern I’ve never been in. Since New Year, since having the house all to myself, I have been getting tired around 9pm, and going to bed for 10pm. And then getting up at 6am or 6:30am.

In fact, I’d argue I’m sleeping more now than I ever have done. And all when I’m in most desperate need of more hours in the day to work in.

I suspect the two are connected. The workload recently is stressing me out and making me need longer to recharge. That has to be the reason, because normally you need less sleep as you get older. Not more.

I think the other reason is that now the mornings are pretty light… it makes me want to get up. It makes me want to seize the early hours to get things done, before the nastiness of the ringing phone and ceaseless texts and emails.

Talking of sleep…

 

There Is No Normal

Right now, my sleep pattern is well and truly up the wall.

For the past week or so, having done three night shifts on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I have been trying to work out a sensible routine that I can stick to. Unfortunately, my body is having none of it, and it’s not helped by simply going to bed earlier and earlier, thus putting me back into my old sleeping ways.

No, that’s no good at all. What I need to do is like today, even though I’ve just finished a 7 hour shift which was extremely busy, and managed to make almost no mistakes whatsoever (except trust one customer for just a little too long, meaning my till was slightly down at the end of the shift…) … and stay up late.

Tomorrow I will be doing a night shift again. That’s all good, but this week they’re going to be much more difficult as they’re in a very busy location. And the customers just don’t fucking go to bed. Ever. One might think a lull would arrive after a certain hour, but it doesn’t. They just keep on coming. And they’ll happily queue up at the window. It’s no bother to them at all.

It’s at times like that, though, that I’m always grateful when I’m behind the bulletproof glass and I’ve got a safely locked door. It makes what should be a rather arduous job much more tolerable. Indeed, I’d go so far as to say the night shifts are much better simply because things aren’t so frantic for you. There’s much more time to get your banking right, get your safe drops spot on, process the vast amounts of change the taxi drivers give you, and make sure things generally run smoothly.

So while I’m readjusting to working life, I’m actually being hit with work for my business. Got a couple of customers ongoing at the moment, and I’m in the middle of some PC sales, which should be concluded shortly. The miracle of the past few days was that I actually sold a PC through my website. I’m very happy with that, it makes a very pleasant change indeed. If only I thought it would keep going.

Tomorrow I’ve got to try and finish these few jobs off and get my room in order. It’s such a horrible mess at the moment that I hate going up there. And I hate it up there anyway because it’s either too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter. And right now, it’s obviously too hot. I like the sun. I’m enjoying the heatwave. But at night… it has to cool down at least a bit.

Unfortunately it doesn’t. And worse, I have to try and sleep during the day in a room that at times reads 34C on the thermometer. (Don’t ever get a loft conversion. They’re totally uninhabitable)

So it’s a strange old life I’m leading at the moment. Always on the go, always doing something. I just wish more of my time actually earned me a living rather than kept me from getting bored. After all, it’s not like I’m all that enthused about the potential prospect on the horizon of me becoming the secretary of my local junior football league. Great!

Late Night Blues

In the past few days a lot has changed for me.

First of all, I have a job. Not a good one, but a job. It will allow me to earn some money while I work out what I do next.

The bad news is that the job is primarily based around night shifts. Hence why I’m currently awake as 2:35am, way past my usual bedtime.

Even worse news is that it is a job I’ve done before – cashier at a petrol station. Well, a few different petrol stations in fact. Perhaps I don’t really know what I’ve let myself in for. Only now is it dawning on me that unless I want to have to do this regularly – changing my sleep pattern by staying up late, taking regular naps, going to bed early, or a combination of all three – I’m going to have to turn into a night owl.

How long I can put up with it, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll find I like my new living pattern. In truth though, it’s unlikely to work out very well in the house I live in now. There’s no way I’ll be able to sleep very well during the day here. It’s not just the noise of the family, but the heat in my loft bedroom is unbearable at the moment.

Nevertheless, it could be the perfect excuse I need to escape from this house. Though my original plan was to get a part time job to sustain an income from which I could fund more business activities, I’m somewhat loathe to waste any money on that pathetic excuse for a business which I run, the one which has currently not received a phone call in almost a week.

So maybe, instead, I could use my money to rent somewhere. Near where I live they have just built an apartment block. A very nice one too. I could rent a one-bedroomed apartment in an excellent location for transport and shops for £400/month. It’s a lot of money, but I think I’d appreciate the freedom again. I’ve had it with here – it’s just too much. I feel too depressed here. I feel too detached from my brothers and sister because I’m more like a parent now than a sibling – because all I seem to do is moan at them or ask them to do things. Crap. I would have hated to have had an older brother telling me what to do.

The best thing for me would be to be gone from here. But I know it would make my mum and dad’s job incredibly difficult. Things are amazingly stressful around this family at the moment, due to my older sister, my grandparents, and various other circumstances. If I went it would make things ten times worse.

It’s something I’ll have to keep thinking about. There’s no immediate rush to decide, and in the meantime I can earn some money. Tomorrow will be my first night shift ever. It should be OK, but you never know in petrol stations! Either way, if I can get into a routine I’ll probably feel a bit better about it.

Cos right now I feel shit. And it’s not helped by the awful news on the TV. What a night to be up late. Poor Michael Jackson. I had a lot of time for his music. The man himself was clearly not all there in his later years. But it remains a tragedy that he became that way, partly created because he lived his entire life as a celebrity.

It’s a strange world we live in.