Getting Up Early & Other Spooky Tales


Aug, 19

It's the question I've been asked the most: how much sleep do you get? I haven't thought about the question as much as I have thought about why people ask it? Why are people so interested in how much sleep I get? Obviously, it is because I get up so fucking early. But that doesn't quite answer the question. It only answers part of it. It is difficult to make a group of humans do the same things or act the same way. So why do so many of them ask that question and not other questions? People are different in so many ways but in other ways we are the same. We all have the same basic needs. We need oxygen for respiration. We need sustenance in the form of food and water. We need shelter from the elements. And we need sleep to survive. Survive. That's a very interesting word. It has become very interesting to me in answering why people ask me how much sleep I get. I think the question and the need for survival are linked. It may be a tenuous one, but I will hopefully illuminate it in the coming words. I'll tell you my reasoning behind why I think people are so intrigued by my sleeping patterns.

They want a reason why they can't do it. I'm not judging whatsoever. The reason why I know this is because I've done it myself 100 times over. I'd here of someone doing something different or living differently and be amazed. I would then examine it for a crack or a flaw that made it "impossible" for me to do. It's in our human nature. We are designed to survive. We were designed to avoid things that put us in "danger". Things that activate our fight or flight mechanisms. Things that make us say to ourselves "that can't be healthy." Or "you shouldn't really do that." When in reality it's just outside of the comfort zone. Like waking up early to get more out of the day. We'd rather not go there. It's like a bad part of town or that alley way that's a bit dark or a bit dodgy. Its not nice but by going through there you could actually get where you are trying to go. But we don't tend to like it there. Survival is ingrained into our physiology as a human being. We are programmed to survive. We are programmed to find places where food and water are plentiful. We would settle near rivers to catch fish and have water to drink. Or in the modern day, we live in towns and cities close to supermarkets and restaurants.

We are programmed to find shelter so we would live in cave entrances and built dwellings in forested areas. Or live in nice gafs in Blackrock with hedgerows so no one can see what you're up to. We are also programmed to sleep. As darkness falls your body produces melatonin which signals the body to relax, become drowsy and your temperature to fall. (I'll cover more of this in a bit but your four episodes of Game of Thrones before bed is fucking with your sleep bud.) Just as darkness triggers your body to prepare for sleep, light triggers your body to become more alert and to wake. We are literally programmed to keep living. I live near a supermarket, just as you probably do. I also live in a house same as you. But when it comes to sleep, that's where shit gets a bit different. Briiiiing briiiiiiiing briiiiiiiing. That fucking alarm. I only closed my eyes ten minutes ago. It surely can't be morning already? But there it is on the screen of my phone "5:00 TFS". I make sure to hit "Stop" and not "Snooze". I don't hit snooze because that gives me a licence to put my head back on the pillow and tell myself the biggest lie ever told "5 more minutes and I'll get up." I've done that before. Fuckin' loads of times. When I would have these seasonal changes in lifestyle. I'd get up to my bedroom full of motivation and vigour and set my alarm for 6:00am. "Right, I'm gonna get up and head over to the gym before work!" There's only one word that gets in the way: snooze. That's my first tip: Stop don't snooze. By hitting stop you're injecting your mind and body with fear.

Fear and uncertainty as to whether you'll get up or not. You'll be late for work. Then you'll have to explain to your boss that you're late for work and she's a cow. She'll probably be her typical cow self and berate you. I'm joking but you get the picture: you'll poo your pants. So hit stop on the alarm not snooze and you'll get up. I hit stop on the alarm on the phone and put it back down onto the bedside table. I hunch myself up and rest back on my elbows. It's bright. Well, kind of bright. It's dawn and the sun hasn't quite crept over the treeline yet. But I can see clearly around my room. I can see the wardrobe with my collection of shirts that get very little use anymore. I see the LG television, black against the white wall of the room. And just below it, on the carpeted floor, I see them. My runners. And my running gear. It looks back at me and tells me what must be done. It also saves time in the morning walking around the quiet house half-dressed barely awake looking for a clean tee shirt to throw on. That's tip two: lay out your gear the night before. It's coming to the of the day. You've had your fill of TV (for me it's The Simpsons seasons 1-8) and it's time to peel yourself off the couch and head up to shower (showering helps lower your body temperature so having one before bed is good for sleep so I guess that's another mini tip.) You hop out and you brush your teeth and moisturise (yeah I moisturise, I like smooth skin what of it?) All you want to do now is flop down into bed and conk. But wait. You have to get your gear laid out. Lay it out close to but not on your bed. Make sure you have to get out of bed to put it on. I'm definitely not the only one who would get dressed while still under the covers when in primary and secondary school on early school mornings? Believe me the temptation to do this at 5 or 6 in the morning is real. Once you put your feet down on the floor, you're up. You feel the cool ground beneath your feet. You don't even have to stand.

Once you're not horizontal anymore you're officially up. Then all you have to do is put on the gear and laces up them shoes. You could be putting on anything, you don't have to be going for a run. You could be walking the dog, going to Pilates or hitting a spinning session. You could be getting up to meet a friend in the gym that also wants to change their sleep patterns and lives. You could literally do anything, because you're hours ahead of the game. You're up when others are in their beds. I remember hearing Mike Tyson in his early career talking about how he would get up at 4.30 every morning and run. He didn't have to. He did it because he knew his opponents weren't doing it. They were in bed, asleep. It gave him an edge, it made him feel like he would be better prepared than they would be. You will be too. Except your opponent is you. You will be able to take on so much more each day. If your day starts at five there is more getting done before work which means your time after work is free to get even more accomplished with your day. You don't have to hit the gym or run because you did that at 5.30 this morning.

So, what now? You could learn that language you wanted to learn before you visit that city you want to visit. You could learn the guitar so you could play Wonderwall at family barbeques and listen to your uncle say how he was in a band once. You could do whatever the fuck you wanted to do. You are the master of your day and therefore your life. So, get to bed early.