A Sunny Focus

What you focus your attention on matters

All in good time

Seize the day, but remember: Each day needs all 24 hours

I present to you the following quotes:

The early bird gets the worm.

English Proverb

Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.

Benjamin Franklin

AND ALSO

Progress isn’t made by early risers. It’s made by lazy men trying to find easier ways to do something.

Robert A. Heinlein

Early risers are conceited in the morning and stupid in the afternoon.

Rose Henniker Heaton

A little over a year ago I ran across a book titled The Miracle Morning: The Not-So-Obvious Secret Guaranteed To Transform Your Life… (Before 8AM) by Hal Elrod. *

Before I go much more into my post, here’s a little factoid about me: I have lived most of my life as a night owl. The dark hours of the evening were perfect for devouring books and writing poems, journaling and “daydreaming.” Given the choice, I rarely woke before eleven-thirty, preferably noon, and I never thought anything of it.

My days of living like a night owl came to a screeching halt upon the birth of my eldest child. I frequently thought that the fact that my little boy was a morning person was solid proof that God exists and has a sense of humor. (I’m totally down with that, by the way. So often it’s either laugh or cry. Laughing is much more fun.)

After reading The Miracle Morning (twenty-odd years after the life-altering event of becoming a mother), I thought I would give it a try, just for kicks and giggles. I liked the idea of starting out the day in a more deliberate way, rather than rushing (or staggering, depending) headlong into what needed to be done. I started by getting up at quarter of six, gradually inching my wake up time earlier and earlier to accommodate all the things I wanted to have done before the “regular day” began. I finally settled on 4:15 AM, an hour previously described by me as unholy. Nevertheless, something strange happened. I felt good. Energized. Prepared to face the day. In touch with my thoughts. All these groovy things!

And then something different happened. I got sick. It started as a cold and ended up with me laid out on my back for probably a month. Even after I wasn’t “sick” any more, I was tired all the time. I slept a full night and still needed a nap during the day. This went on for weeks. Gradually I got over my intense need for sleep, and very sadly concluded I could not handle getting up so early even though I felt so fulfilled when I did.

Somewhere in between my morning-person-baby being born and my discovery of Hal Elrod’s book, I determined that in order for me to go through life without fatigue as my constant companion, I needed somewhere between nine and twelve hours a sleep a night.** I know, this is much different than the eight hours you hear about. I trusted what I was feeling but in order to get my needed sleep, I started shutting down by seven and aiming for falling asleep by eight.

I say I trusted my body, and I did, in that I gave it what it was asking for. At the same time, I felt like (I hate even to say it) a freak for going to bed so early. Many of my friends teased me, and even some of my family members had trouble adjusting to my new hours. While I’m sure all teasing was meant to be good-natured, and such an unusual change would naturally be hard for some people to accept, it only increased my feeling of freakish-ness. Even when people have been supportive I have felt bad about my irregular sleep schedule.

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Shortly after this conversation I had on Facebook, however, I had a small epiphany. Someone had said something to me that reinforced my freakish feeling, and after my inner critic spent a goodly amount of time tearing me down, I realized what I was doing.

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I am a firm believer that the Universe speaks to those who listen. I know I don’t hear all the messages it sends my way, but sometimes they come through loud and clear. On the very same day I had the above text conversation with my husband, a loud and clear message showed up in my inbox.

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While this post by Gretchen Rubin didn’t specifically speak to my insecurities about my sleep schedule, the title said it all. You can be successful if you are a morning person, a night person, or something in between. My calendar was already full for this week, but starting on Saturday (26 January) I have blocked every day from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM for a siesta.

Today while I was researching famous early birds and night owls, I came across a quiz to tell your chronotype. According to the quiz, I am a dolphin, which fits fairly well into the traditional early bird category. The quiz is quite short, however, and doesn’t take into account the amount of sleep I currently need. In fact, it would appear that none of the chronotypes “should” go to bed before 10:30 PM. Still, it was reassuring to see something besides the black and white of the owl or lark types.

Sleep cycles and the like have been researched for some time (re: Nathaniel Kleitman’s Sleep and Wakefulness) but I first heard of the concept of chronotypes only a couple of years ago,when Dr. Michael Breus published his book, The Power of When: Discover Your Chronotype–and the Best Time to Eat Lunch, Ask for a Raise, Have Sex, Write a Novel, Take Your Meds, and More. I was curious at the time, but my butterfly-like brain settled on something else, and I never got around to reading the book. It’s on hold at my library, however, and I hope soon to remedy that situation.

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Image: NASA; Text added by me

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As I am learning to do (through practice; lots of it, and often not by my own choosing), I hope you listen to what you need, trust what your inner self tells you, and live what’s right for you without shame.

Brightest blessings, Sunny

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*These are not affiliate links. I am making no income from these; they are provided for your reference only.

**More regular readers will already know I have recently been diagnosed with sleep apnea, and I have hopes that my treatment plan will decrease the amount of sleep I currently need.

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