June Challenge: Waking up before 9 AM

Don't Wake Me When I'm Not Sleeping by Eric Zener
At the end of 2020, I've decided to make 2021 a challenging year. I have committed to doing 12 monthly challenges, one for each month. You can see the list of all the challenges here. Below is a summary of the June challenge.

What was the challenge?

Challenge: Wake up before 9 AM

Why: Nobody would call this being a morning person, but for me, this would definitely be a big shift and a transition to becoming a morning person. I'll make an effort and see if this works for me. I've tried this a few times in my life, always reverting to late nights.

How well did it go?

Challenge completion rate: 17% (5 out of 30) FAIL

How hard was it?

At the end of each day, I recorded if I had completed the challenge for the day. I also rated how much effort it took on a scale of 1 to 10. While it's subjective, it gives an idea of how hard it was to complete the challenge.

Average effort score: 5.29

Lowest effort score for the month: 4 (2 times)

Highest effort score for the month: 10 (1 time)

What did I learn from it?

I have failed miserably.

The first day was easy. I slept well the night before, and waking up was relatively painless. The second night, though... There was no second night. I worked through it all with no sleep. Because of this, waking up on the third day was brutal—10 out of 10 on the effort scale. The next three days were hit and miss. Hits were hard (forcing myself out of bed), a miss was easy (overslept and woke up to all the alarms turned off, with no recollection of doing it).

After struggling mightily, I have decided to give up the challenge. The main reason was that even on days when I slept 1-2 hours longer than I usually sleep, I felt much worse, and I was much more tired and sleepy the whole day. What's the point of shifting the day and sleeping the same amount or longer, only to feel worse?

With a heavy heart, I reverted to going to bed at my usual hours (between 3 AM - 6 AM). I want to go to bed earlier, but I don't see it happening soon. Maybe someday.

Pros

  • More time to do things. A few additional hours added to the beginning of the workday were like a Christmas present.
  • More sunlight. It could be more important during winter, but it was a bonus even in the summer. More sunlight = more vitamin D = more health.

Cons

  • Every morning is a fight. I felt like going to school again, fighting with an alarm clock every day. This time there was no "enemy" to fight, though. No parents coming every 10 minutes to wake me up.
  • More tired and sleepy, even with more sleep. Surprisingly, even when I slept more, I felt worse. And it wasn't a matter of waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle. I use an alarm that checks the sleep phase and wakes me up at the best moment in a 30-minute window to minimize the likelihood of waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle and feeling groggy. Still, it didn't help.
  • Less quiet time. Mornings are much less likely to be calm and quiet. There's no substitute for the peacefulness of the middle of the night when the whole world is sleeping, and there are no distractions, no emails, no notifications, no phone calls, no news, no visitors, no construction noises, nothing.

Will I keep doing it?

No. Or... maybe, but not voluntarily. With the looming birth of our second child, I might have no choice. But even then, I hope it's only temporary. I have proved to myself that I'm not a morning person, no matter how hard I try or how much I want it.

What's the next month's challenge?

Challenge: Cold shower in the morning.

Why: I've tried it a few times already, usually lasting 2-3 weeks. Every time it wasn't easy, but I loved the effects. Every time, my sinuses flared up (I have a chronic problem with my sinuses), and I had to stop. Maybe when I do it in the summer, it will be less of a problem.

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