Do You Prefer to Get Up Early or Stay Up Late?
I heard someone recently comment that it was better to stay up late than get up early. And I get that. The day ahead can feel like a long stretch, with too much time to fill if you’ve not got specific, time sensitive activities like children to drop off, work to do or lots of chores or interests to fill your time.
It’s far easier to occupy the evenings when sitting, eating, making a drink, watching TV and settling down for an hour or two are treated as normal activities to do at the end of each day. Even though they’re things that we may do regularly they could still be regarded as not really acceptable to fill our time with earlier on during daytime hours.
Some people think of themselves as larks, rising early and starting the day with enthusiasm. Others are owls, enjoying doing things later into the evening. But many of us have to adapt and fit in with what’s required of us. We have places to be, appointments to keep, other people to accommodate and these usually tend to happen during the day.
The challenge is often to find a balance between being solely a lark or an owl. It may be that we only revert to our natural default at specific times, like when we’re on holiday or have only ourselves to consider.
But what about those times when we would actually prefer to go to bed a little earlier and not lose the ‘best hours of the day’ due to feeling tired or jaded through staying up too late, or those times when we’re frustrated at not really achieving very much during the mornings? We may become aware that we’re wasting time and want to change that situation.
So, how can you release your inner lark?
Commit to a regular routine. Decide on a time when you would be okay about going regularly to bed, which would be reasonable for you to sustain, that allows you your recommended hours of sleep and then set your alarm accordingly. That way you can get up, shower, coffee, breakfast and start your day at a comfortable pace . Initially schedule those things that you’re able to do almost on auto-pilot. Then you can get up and out without having to think about it too much.
Work backwards from your desired bedtime and don’t start anything that could potentially overrun into that time. A film, a piece of work, a chore can be budgeted for and accommodated. Don’t tempt fate by not taking timings into account.
Maybe incorporate a wind down routine each evening, like a pre-bed walk, yoga routine, listening to relaxing music, taking a bath or shower. Watching TV in your bedroom can keep you in ‘owl mode’, by stimulating your mind, being a distraction and keeping you watching longer than you’d like, so maybe move your TV elsewhere.
Turn off your tech at a pre-determined time and stop checking online, unless there’s an emergency situation that requires your immediate attention. Leave your emails and social media until another day and turn down your stress responses. Get used to having a calmer, less urgent form of engagement.
Ensure that your bedroom is a cosy place to retreat to. Let it be your special, calm, relaxing haven where you look forward to settling down each night. Subdued lighting, clean sheets, soothing music, colours and fabrics, no clutter or work-related distractions can all make such a difference to the mood. Can you keep your phone elsewhere, perhaps charging on the landing?
Plan your diary ahead. Write a list of things you’d like to accomplish or even simply start each day, especially things that require you to get up, dressed and leave the house. Plan things that include other people so that you’re less likely to postpone, cancel or let them down.
Arrange activities that you enjoy, that you’re good at. Then you’ve got things to look forward to, that motivate you. When you’ve made plans that cause you to smile, that you get pleasure from there’ll be more of a spring to your step.
Be accountable, to family, friends, even a coach. It’s harder to do nothing if you know that you’re going to have to check-in and report on your activity, or lack of! If you’ve decided that a walk, a class, even meeting for a coffee is a goal, make sure that you treat it as a serious arrangement.
Committing to these steps enables you to start modifying your body clock into one that suits you better. Then each day will move you towards your goals and enable you to make the most of your time.
Susan Leigh, South Manchester Counsellor & Hypnotherapist www.lifestyletherapy.net