The sun has not caught me in bed in fifty years. -Thomas Jefferson
Beep. Beep. BEEP. “Oh no… is it morning already? But I am soooo tired… Just 5 more minutes… Oh, please…” This used to be me, almost every morning – for over a decade.
For a long time, I tried to fight it. “Why wouldn’t this body wake up?!?” I wondered what was wrong with it. So, I went on a mission to fix it. I tried all kinds of stuff. No television, computer, or food two hours before bed. Exercise in the morning. A diet so healthy it would put almost anyone to shame. Now, these are all very important, and they did help – a little. But, on most mornings, I still didn’t want to get up.
Let me clarify that I am not here to discount the volumes of literature on sleep. To the contrary, I urge you to explore it all. In fact, even those things I listed, which didn’t do much for me, work wonders for others. I should mention that there are some very serious sleep disorders that modern medicine is very well equipped to handle – I know several people whose sleep problems improved dramatically after a visit to their doctor. I am not here to take anything away, but rather, to add something that has worked incredibly well for me. And while I am certain that many others have discovered for themselves what I am about to tell you here, I have never heard it before.
Getting back to my story, I decided to stop fighting my body. I concluded that I am just the kind of person that needs 10 hours of sleep per night, and I organized my life to allow for plenty of sleep. I thought that I was doing the right thing. I thought that I was listening to my body.
But, there were these other types of mornings, like the morning of my wedding day. Something exciting was going on. I couldn’t wait to get out of bed. And then, no problem. I was up at the crack of dawn. And instead of feeling dead tired – I was full of energy. However, these mornings were few and far between. I didn’t really pause to think about them.
It took a lot longer for me to hear the real message that my body was trying to tell me. I was invited to do a solo singing performance in the morning, very early (for me). I was going to sing some of my favorite pieces, but, nevertheless, I was uneasy about it because it was happening so early. I was worried that I would be tired, and wouldn’t be able to give the performance I wanted. Then, a strange thing happened. I was up an hour before I had to get out of bed. I was bursting with energy, and I performed as I hoped I would. “It’s just because I love singing so much,” I reasoned.
Still, I didn’t hear the message that my body way trying to communicate. Then, I discovered writing.
Sleep felt like a waste of time. I would be up before 6am typing rigorously. Suddenly, there weren’t enough hours in the day. What sleep? I am not tired, just let me write. Life was finally better than my dreams.
Now I couldn’t ignore the message any longer. I finally figured out how to wake up in the morning and hit the ground running: I needed a reason to wake up. It doesn’t have to be singing, or writing. In fact, there are quite a few other things that can get me to jump out of bed in the morning. But not just any reason would do, either. The need for necessities, money, and other obligations, will get you physically out of bed, but your mind and spirit may still be half asleep. If you want to jump out of bed in the morning bursting with energy, you need intrinsic motivation. You need a reason that is personally meaningful to you. A reason that you find exciting.
I finally figured out what my body was trying to tell me all along. It was saying that it didn’t want to wake up – but this means a lot more than what’s on the surface. My body was reflecting my inner feelings. How I felt about getting up in the morning perfectly reflected how I felt about my waking life in general.
Now, I didn’t hate my life. For many years, when I had trouble getting up in the morning I actually felt pretty good about things. I just wasn’t excited enough about my daily life.
So if you have trouble waking up in the morning, consider why. Your body is not always the enemy, it is usually your loyal friend. It’s trying to tell you something. It’s urging you to create a life worth living. It’s asking you to create a life worth waking up for.
Ironically, not wanting to get up may be our most important wakeup call.