1. I need 8 hours of sleep a night.
2. I am required to get up at 6:20 a.m. on weekdays, and sometimes even earlier on weekends with away soccer games that the bleeping officials set for first thing in the morning even though we have to travel nearly 2 hours to get there.
3. I am not a morning person. It's difficult to struggle out of bed any day, never mind when I'm operating on too-little sleep.
I've known these things for a very long time. Before my kids started school. Before I had a 45-minute commute to an early day job. Before I scheduled 8:30 classes in college (frosh mistake--I hate being a cliché!). So why is it such a challenge for me? Simple equation:
But there are a couple of other factors that trump this self-awareness and solid logic. I'm not only not a morning person, I'm very much a night person. My body tries very, very hard to follow its preferred pattern: Stay up until 3:00 a.m., sleep until 11:00 a.m., repeat cycle. Some nights this summer I was up until 4 or even 4:30, and it was easy. I wasn't tired! Not at any point during the day!
Yes, some of it is a matter of training. If I force myself to go to bed at 10:00 or 11:00, I can maintain the week with no trouble. So far, I haven't been able to make that happen. The problem is work.
Any of you who freelance or work for yourselves know that one of the drawbacks is constant availability. It's okay if I don't do this data entry while the kids are at school, because I can do it after they go to bed. I'll critique this friend's manuscript over the weekend, which will let me work on my own book Monday...until the proofing jobs come in, pushing the writing back to after the football game. That kind of thing.
So what happens is I come back down to my office after the kids are in bed, and that's it. I keep working and working until it's stupid time, then I need unwinding time (pleasure reading, and--an unfortunate side effect--a snack, because it's been 5 or 6 hours since dinner and my stomach is growling).
It wouldn't be so difficult if I got progressively tired. But I don't. I'm at my most tired between 3 and 7 in the afternoon/evening. But I have to push through, because of after-school stuff and soccer practices and meetings and school events and kids' bedtime activities. Then I have my second wind, and if I'm not tired, I should be productive!
Then the alarm goes off at 6:00 a.m., and I want to stab somebody in the head for being such an idiot.
After three solid years of this with no real change, I've come to decide that imposition of a "smart" pattern is impossible. Nature is winning, and all I can do is hold on until the kids are both old enough to not need me, and then I can follow my own pattern...for the rest of my life, if I'm lucky.
I know Mary either has the opposite nature or has greater control over her natural rhythms (as evidenced by daily 4:00 a.m. blog posts). How about the rest of you?