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!

The Tearful Injury

As per my previous post the events of the past few days are still swirling around my head. They have been tempered somewhat since yesterday because we organised a get well card and went to see the injured player in hospital – this helped to clear things up and erase some of the haunting memories I had of the last time I saw him being in total agony and clearly very distressed about what the future had in store.

Things did come to a head for me yesterday, though. After having one of the worst night’s sleep in ages, lying awake for most of the night, I got up in the morning, exhausted from the constant churn of devastation. I could feel it building up. I had to get it out.

So when my mum came into the room and started asking about what the latest news was (as my dad had taken a phone call from the injured player earlier) I just burst into tears. It was awful. Then my mum joined in. My dad wasn’t there, but judging by his demeanour since the incident he has been depressed about it too. We’re all pretty cut up about it…

We resolved to do what we could to help, anything to try to make us feel a bit better. It turns out that he doesn’t have any immediate family that are any use, so when we said we wanted to visit him, his dad (who has had to stay at home throughout due to other family commitments) asked if we could take some stuff up to his mum, who had been at the hospital almost constantly since it happened. We were only too happy to help.

When we finally arrived we spent two hours talking, getting everything straight (the confusion about the incident itself was bad enough) and having a good laugh and a joke. It’s clear what happened was appalling for him, as every time he mentioned it he went gloomy, saying how terrible the pain and the unknown was. He’s obviously gutted about it, but he’s determined it won’t be the end of his playing career, and he’s still the same kid as before – bright, cheery, witty and optimistic for the future. The small matter of a cast from his toes to his thigh doesn’t seem to have got him down too much. At least, I hope not.

But most of all it’s answered a lot of my questions. It seems his operation wasn’t as bad as we first feared, and his ankle wasn’t broken in the incident after all – it had somehow gone out of place (but not dislocated?) as a result of the smashing of his tibia, just a couple of centimetres above his ankle. They had to “operate” in order to make sure everything was in the right place and fit the cast, because the pain was just too great doing it while he was still awake, but, fingers crossed, it’s all gone well, and the worst is now over.

There is the little matter that the cast is too heavy for crutches, so he’s wheelchair-bound for at least the next six weeks, but in total he will be out for four months or so. That’s going to be the longest four months of my life. The pain for me will ease day-by-day, as the necessity of other things in life comes along to change my priorities, but every waking moment of the kid will be taken up by this thing. I’m lucky. He’s not.

What have I learned from all this? Well… I’ve learned that I’m a pretty sensitive soul, emotionally wired up with the team I run. That’s not much of a surprise. I have been surprised at just how much it’s devastated me, though. I now know too that mistakes were made when the referee tried to remove the player’s boot in the early seconds after the incident. I hope he didn’t aggravate it, the idiot. I also know that slide tackling is a recipe for disaster if both players are sliding for the ball, but that seems to be a case of naivety on the part of our injured player for not recognising the danger, and not realising that he didn’t need to do it at all in the circumstances. I also know that shin pads probably ought to offer more protection for the side of the shin – in this case they didn’t, and that’s how he still broke it.

As a team, we will be taking out personal injury insurance, and we will now have to rebuild our squad looking to the future. We will also have to rebuild morale – not an easy challenge at all. We will also put in place a procedure to deal with an incident like this better; we couldn’t help but feel inadequate after what happened.

He gets out of hospital today, at last. That will be a major relief for all concerned. The long road to recovery will now begin. Let’s hope it does so with as good a Christmas as they can have under the circumstances.

I could definitely do with that.

Sounding Like Barry White

When I told a friend that a current sore throat was making me sound like Barry White – deep, husky and rather sultry – he quipped in reply: “What, dead?”

I rather walked into that one, it seems, but still, I think this may be the first time in a long while that I’ve been ill. And in truth, it’s a trifling illness. Normally sore throats come attached to a cold or some other nastiness. This one appears to be an entirely isolated sore throat, with some collateral damage through excess phlegm production.

The problem is that the collateral damage ends up being worse than the sore throat itself. During the day the sore throat is pretty much irrelevant. It hurts a tiny bit when I swallow, but I’ve made up for that by ramping up my water consumption. Yes, this means I’m going the toilet every hour, sometimes twice, but this trick usually works for flushing any bugs out of my system, literally speaking in the case of the toilet trips.

Anyway, the real problem is that, at night, because I can’t drink overnight, and it seems can’t cough or get rid of mucus in any other way, I am waking up in the night with a blocked nose and difficulty breathing in any way other than through my mouth. Which only dries my throat, making it worse. The result of all these shenanigans was that last night I was awake from 3am to 4:30am, unable to get back to sleep, and unable to drink lots of water to stop the problem… because I’ll be damned if I’m getting up every hour to go the toilet – the stairs coming down from the loft are incredibly creaky (despite being six months old) and it probably wakes up my mum and dad in the room next to them.

So a piddling little illness that by day is nothing to me becomes a ridiculous ordeal at night. I don’t think I’ve had a good night’s sleep for a while now, definitely not since this whole sillyness started on Sunday afternoon. I’m not even sure how I caught this one. Usually bugs like this have a known origin… but no one I know is ill right now. And I can’t have picked it up during Sunday’s little jaunt outdoors (see previous post) because there’s no way it would have affected me that quickly.

Of course, being ill is hardly a big deal… but at the same time, because my life is so dull right now, in some respects I’m annoyed because it’s ruined what I perceive to be an incredible couple of years without me falling victim to any illnesses. I put it down to my outstanding hygiene practices… but then again, they
are so good that I have a habit of annoying other people by constantly berating them for their lack of handwashing, which has only gotten worse since we got a dog three years ago.

But in every bit of bad there’s a little bit of good – and my new bassy tones, a whole seven semi-tones below what I was previously capable of are proving a useful amusement. I suspect they won’t last once this has all cleared up (which makes me want to know why this effect exists, as I’ve observed it before) – but it’s still been fun mimicking those opening words to Can’t Get Enough of Your Love.