Friday, January 11, 2008
Living a Lie
I've been back in the office since January 2. Prior to that, I had nearly two full weeks at home, which was the longest uninterrupted stretch since, well, I don't want to think about that.
Having nearly two full weeks at home without any early-morning obligations meant that my body was able to revert to its 'default' settings. And I've been forced to come to terms with a horrible truth.
I am not a morning person.
In grad school, I'd usually go to bed somewhere between midnight and two, and wake up around nine, like God intended. In my faculty days, if I didn't have an early morning class, I largely stuck to that. (One semester I had a freshman comp class at 7:30 in the morning. I think that violated the Geneva Convention.) It wasn't until the one-two punch of fatherhood and administration that I started getting up every day at some ridiculous hour.
Then it got worse. I realized that the only way I could go to the gym on any kind of regular basis and not be a horribly neglectful parent or spouse was to go before work. So 'ridiculous' became 'you've got to be kidding.' And there it is.
Staying on the treadmill, I can sort of fool myself for a while. If the breaks are no longer than a weekend, then I don't fully revert to my default settings. Even a long weekend doesn't register as much more than a blip.
But the Christmas break was long, and mostly travel-free. We purposely kept the obligations light. The kids didn't have to go to school, so there was nothing forcing anybody to get up early. And I started waking up, oh, nine-ish.
It was glorious. After a few days, I actually felt like myself again. Having once again tasted the sweet nectar of an inner clock in harmony with the universe, this past week has been a real struggle. (Yes, yes, I know, clocks don't have nectar. Just roll with it.) And it's not just the job; TB has to get going fairly early to make it to school.
When I get really desperate, I shift to an earlier bedtime. That works for exactly one day. Then my body clock figures out that it's been tricked, and hits back. It's not pretty.
Extroverts, morning people, and Republicans have entirely too much power in our culture. Thoughtful, sleep-deprived liberals of the world, unite! We have nothing to lose but our crankiness.
And now, off to the gym.
You know how many meetings I've ever managed to get scheduled for 7AM (the analog of the 6PM ending time)? Exactly none.
Please, tell me more about this power we morning people have...
Of course, in my timezone, it is currently 2AM....
I'm dating a "non-morning person" and have learned (the hard way) to make the coffee, kiss her lightly, and close the door quietly on my way out the door.
So you can imagine how I feel about being pregnant. I take these to be my last true days of sleep freedom.
My internal clock is set for waking at 7 and bedtime around 10, so I guess I'm a centrist. :) But since my husband changed jobs, we now get up at 5:15. Not so great, especially since I also get SAD, and it's winter.
So, I blew some of my leftover 2007 medical flex spending account on a light therapy box. (I'd been thinking about this for a year, ever since I found out that I could be happy and productive in winter as long as I got lots of sunlight.) It is working remarkably well. I can even do work for my customers in the morning before coming into the lab.
Light therapy boxes are also used to treat jet lag, and it sounds like your body is running on West Coast time. If you absolutely must get up earlier than your body wants to, you might be helped by this. It just requires 30 minutes in the morning, and you can do something else, like eat breakfast, while you're taking treatment.
Of course, thanks to karmic justice, I was teaching on the grave-yard shift for the fall semester: 7:40-10:20 PM. I was in hell, absolute hell. I would LOVE to teach at 8 AM; I'd be fabulous. But grave yard shift? Naaddaa. I can barely speak in complete sentences much less DRIVE HOME afterwards.
BTW: I discovered just HOW light sensitive I am when I lived in Edmonton AB for a month. When the sun came up at 4:30 AM, I was up also and into work by 6 AM. The bad news? That time of year, the sun didn't set until 8 or 9 PM. Made for very long days...
I'm in the middle of my 6-week-long winter break. I've been getting up around 10 (and going to bed around 2) virtually every day that did not involve Christmas, early plane flights, or the MLA. It's going to be a cold, rude awakening when the semester begins.
You get my "Amen" on two-out-of-three. I subscribe to the adage, "I'd enjoy the morning more if it started in the afternoon."
"Good morning" is an oxymoron; there's no such thing.
I am so not a morning person that I really can't do the gym in the morning; I can do maybe 2/3 of the workout I could do at 6pm. My body is just not firing on all cylinders at that time.
I go to the gym at night. I did a study on my distance walked/ran for a month of mornings (I'm a scientist after all). My average distance was 0.9 miles shorter in the morning than the average distance for the evening (time is constant as that is the limiting factor for my gym visit).
In terms of sleeping schedules, 7 am -- two hours before non-morning people would wake up -- is the analog of midnight, two hours after morning people go to sleep. How many hours of sleep do you lose when a meeting ends at 6 pm? Work starts at the beginning of the day, so it always imposes much more on night owls than morning larks.
And even in terms of working schedules, the standard day is 9-5. So 7 am is the analog of 7 pm.
As for you, Dean Dad -- you got up at 9am in graduate school when you didn't have morning classes? Yeesh. When I wake up at 9, I look at my clock and smile, and then go back to bed for three hours.
I hate after school meetings. Instead of getting home at 4:00, playing with the kids, making dinner, doing homework and getting some marking and lesson planning done before bed, I get home tired and hungry between 6 and 7:30. No time to play, late dinner, and lesson prep ends up coming out of my sleep time. It also impacts other people: someone has to look after the girls when I'm not there. (I'm out the door before they wake up, so I think it unfair to expect their mother to do after-school as well as before-school parenting.)
Anyone suggesting that anything but an emergency meeting is more important than my family is in for an earful!
But Calugg: Man, I thought I had it bad with classes that ended at 9:30; 10:20 pm is awful!!
I'm so stealing that. I was a morning person while I was in the Marine Corps but that was mostly because I had no choice. Since then... oh no. My adjunct is a morning person though so he gladly takes the 8:00 classes
As for the exercise thing, I highly recommend owning your own big exercise bike and a few dumbbells. No traveling to the gym required. No monthly gym membership fee. And you would be setting a good example for TB and TG.
Fortunately, I also now have a couch in my office. I just discovered that 9:30-10:30 is an excellent time to nap! Maybe not so good for Deans, though.
This truism seems to be the reason for all the late-afternoon meetings. I have to say, though, that most of us (that'd be "I" again) seem not to function very well in the late afternoon, either, so said meetings tend to be minimally productive.
I think academics (naturally, that means "I") only work well from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then again from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Where is that? Up here (Canada) high schools start at 8:45, elementary at 9:00. Finishing time is between 3 and 3:30, depending on the length of lunch and whether the school runs a split lunch or not.