A Few of My Favorite Things, #25: Sleeping In

Okay, so I’m trying to be a little better about this, but I have always been wired to be a night owl. And I have never been a morning person. At all. Consequently, I love sleeping in on the weekends.

I like the quiet hours at the end of the day, time that I have all to myself…I know that some people use the mornings that way, but I’m just never at my best in the mornings. I’ve been this way my entire life. When I was an infant, my parents could never get me to wake up in the mornings—they would try putting a wet washcloth on my face, and I’d roll away and go back to sleep. And they were never able to get me to fall asleep at night, either. I would stay up, quietly playing with my toys or “reading” books, and they would suddenly realize it was way past my bedtime. In elementary school, I would stay up reading for hours after they put me to bed, and in high school, I would end up doing homework late into the night.

I am honestly trying to be better about keeping to a schedule and getting adequate sleep, but it is a struggle. I am undoubtedly a natural night owl and have been my whole life, and going to architecture school did not help things. The culture of all-nighters made my sleep habits even worse, and I’m pretty sure I did permanent damage to myself—normally, when you’re tired and need to go to bed, your body sends clear signals. I’ve burned through those signals so many times (to finish a project, to meet a deadline, to go for a Starbucks run, to watch another episode of Legends of the Hidden Temple…) that my body no longer tells me when I need to go to sleep. It’s like I’ve trained my body to ignore natural sleep patterns. At 11:00pm, I feel full of energy! I feel like I could stay up all night. But if I don’t go to bed, I feel it in the morning. It’s tricky to get my brain to shut down and go to sleep. It’s sort of a mental inertia—when I am awake, I want to stay awake, and when I am asleep, I want to stay asleep.

[The number of all-nighters I have pulled is too many to count, but as an example of the self-inflicted harm to my sleep habits, I once slept for a total of 7 hours over the course of 107 hours to meet a deadline. Meaning that over the course of four and a half days, I took a few naps that added to seven hours of sleep in total. And in the middle of that I marched at a football game. I don’t know how I did it, but my body hates me for it now.]

So I try to find a balance between getting into a more disciplined rhythm and playing to my strengths. I know that I’m not going to be able to suddenly become a morning person, but I am trying to force myself to get up just early enough to acclimate to the day, doing something that doesn’t require a lot of thought. I save the bigger tasks for later in the day when my brain is actually functioning. I am actually more creative at night, and if I am able to arrange my schedule to allow for staying up late, I can usually get a lot done at that time. And I will always love the small luxury of staying up a little later on Friday night and sleeping in on Saturday morning.

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