I’ve always been a night owl. Every school morning, little 10-year-old Alyssa would moan and groan after being woken up at 6 am. Other kids were able to wake up at 7 am because their mom didn’t need to clock in to teach at 7:30 am.
When I became a teenager, I stayed up late for no reason texting friends, as teenagers do. Then going through college, it was staying up late was for last-minute papers and deadlines.
Now during my master’s program, I managed a sleep schedule around my classes. For example, if I have a 10 am class, my butt needs to be awake by 8 am to get myself ready to leave at 9 am for my hour commute.
COVID stay-at-home orders forced all my classes to move to online learning. Now my butt can roll out of bed at 9:55 am to open my laptop and sit in my Zoom call class. This became a problem for this night owl.
My usual “midnight at the latest” bedtime turned into, “it’s 5 am, I think I should sleep.” In my experience, once you pass 2 am, you can pretty much stay up all night. Because I was going to sleep so late I was waking up around noon. With most of my day gone, I ended up working late into the night to compensate. It became a cycle.
Why Fix My Sleep
I realized by losing most of the day, my mood was low. I didn’t like sitting at my laptop at 10 pm still doing work when my body should be unwinding. It took me a while to realize my sleep schedule was the reason I was feeling poopy all day and night. I wanted to fix my mood, so I decided to fix my sleep patterns.
I suggested to my boyfriend that we set our bedtime at midnight at the latest because he was right there with me and my horrible sleep schedule. We were looking forward to going to sleep “early” and waking up at a reasonable time.
So, what happened? We went to bed at 2 am. Nothing changed. Why? Because our subconscious knew we had no real need to be up early since classes were in the evening. We kept telling ourselves we’re going to do it this time, but alas we did not. Not yet.
About two weeks ago, my parents decided to go on a road trip with my twin siblings to drop off and store their college dorm stuff. They’re going to be college freshmen at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, so it’s a week-long trip.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t go with them because of classes and work. So, I had the responsibility of staying home alone with our new, 5-month-old puppy, Ginger (a blog post about her coming soon). Ginger’s sleep schedule was not something I was excited to face. She woke up at 6-7 am every morning crying. It was going to be my job to let her out at this early morning hour to use the bathroom and feed her.
Because of this newfound need to wake up, I was forced into a new sleep schedule. Here’s how my week of waking up early went.
On my first night alone, I knew I needed to go to sleep early, but I was so excited/nervous to be home alone that I stayed up until 2 am watching movies. It was 9 am when my mother woke me with a phone call. I was surprised I didn’t hear a crying puppy at 6 am and assumed I slept through it. It felt good being awake at 9 am and having time in the morning to relax and drink my coffee.
That night, I ended up doing the same thing, watching movies until 2 am. However, the next morning I heard Ginger crying at 6 am. I had to get up and let her outside and feed her. After that, she had so much energy and wanted to play. I was half asleep on the couch, holding the other end of her rope toy until she got sleepy again. I was able to go back to sleep for an extra hour until she started crying again.
I actually enjoyed being up at 8 am drinking my coffee. I was kind of unsure of what to do with myself since I am never usually up that early. I thought maybe I should watch the news, like a real adult, but the channel quickly moved on to Say Yes to the Dress. Out of the blue, Tammi, one of our blog contributors, reached out to me asking to discuss different ideas for our blogs. I told her that God really must’ve wanted us on the phone together because I was never awake that early.
That night, I planned to watch movies again, but I was ready to knock out at 11 pm. Shocker! My body, of course, finally caught up to itself with the late nights and early mornings, and it was forcing me to go to sleep earlier.
The rest of the week went like that, my body forcing me to go to sleep at 11 pm, and forcing me to wake up around 6-8 am.
After a week of this routine, I became comfortable waking up early. Because of this, I’m now forcing myself to wake up before 10 am, and go to bed by 1 am at the latest.
What’s motivating me is the enjoyment I get with just sitting on the couch in the morning with my coffee for a half-hour, reading my fellow contributor’s blog posts.
If you’re struggling with your sleep schedule because of the weirdness of the pandemic, or for whatever reason, it’s okay. We may not improve over-night, within a week, or even a month. Scheduling, organizing, and planning may be difficult, but here are some tips from me on another blog about where to start.
Because my goal is to wake up before 10 am, I plan to stop working by 9 pm to give myself time to unwind before sleeping.
To fix your sleep schedule, I learned you have to identify your goal. If your goal is to simply get eight hours of sleep, you can plan on falling asleep at 1 am and waking up at 9 am. Figure out your body’s needs and accommodate for it.
If you want more tips or anything else, don’t hesitate to reach out to me through a comment here or on our social media @littlewgreatlove. We’re here for you!