When my alarm woke me up this morning, I was in such deep sleep that after I hit the button on my phone to turn it off, I fell back asleep with the phone still in my hand for another 10 minutes until there was enough dogs whining to finally rouse me. In my extreme groggy state everything felt 10X harder to do than usual, and I’m just thankful enough of my clothes matched today to not be a complete embarrassment. It’s pretty annoying when a morning like this happens and then on other days, lately it’s been on the weekends, I have been waking up naturally at around 8 or 8:30 am. I have long been fascinated by the science of sleep and as someone who has been fortunate enough to take courses in that area, I am intrigued why some mornings I’m deep in REM sleep as my alarm goes off and others I’m ready to go, fully awake at nearly the exact same time.
I know one thing that is contributing to this variability is my somewhat erratic bedtime. I haven’t quite been able to make the concerted effort to have a steady bedtime since there are other competing interests which usually keep me up. My husband and I regularly have opposite schedules and there are usually several days of the week where doesn’t get home until fairly late. While I know that for my own benefit I should be in bed, trying to at least fall asleep before then, I rarely am. Instead, I want to squeeze as much quality time as I can and only when I’m absolutely falling asleep do I make my way to the bedroom. My overall time spent asleep doesn’t fluctuate by more than half an hour to 45 minutes most nights because I don’t have a set time in the mornings to be in to work so I can ‘catch’ up on sleep in the mornings, but the difference is still palpable in terms of how awake and functional I feel. In fact, I had an appointment with my doctor last week about my allergies and one of the things he asked me was how I feel when I wake up in the mornings. My answer was dead tired, most of the time. Not good. But the idea of a bedtime as an adult is just incredibly unappealing although I’m not sure I have a choice if I want to improve the quality of life.
Growing up I never had a bedtime which is probably part of the reason why sticking to one now is so difficult. I am also much more of a night owl, although chronotypes aside, it is easier to wake up earlier now than when I was a teenager (for some ungodly reason school started at 7:30am back then!!). I feel like I have my evening routine down except for this one sticking point that I can’t or honestly won’t improve. One thing I have been researching in trying to help with this situation that is sort of like a bedtime, but it’s not because bedtime just sounds so awful, is trying to fall asleep at the right time to optimize the number of sleep cycles throughout the night.
The science on this is mixed as to how much it helps with waking up refreshed and energized, but what is known is a full sleep cycle lasts about 90 minutes and one goes through several of them every night. Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle is what appears to contribute to the heavy groggy state I felt this morning. I actually used to sporadically use a sleep cycle calculator to figure out when I should try to be in bed in order to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle and not in between. I think I’m going to do my own experiment for a week and report back if it really made a difference to how I feel in the mornings. Who knows this might be the solution to my tired mornings once and for all. Do you have a bedtime as an adult? If not, does it affect how you function as a human being in the mornings? I’m curious to hear from you.