Morning shift

Written on January 20, 2015

All throughout college and my 20s I assumed that I was a night owl. Staying awake during the wee hours of the night and waking up around 7 or 8 each day to begin my day.

Last year, I discovered a couple of sleeping patterns that led to a more productive day.

The first pattern is that I only need six hours of sleep each night. I noticed that when I slept less than six hours I’m exhausted the very next day. While sleeping more than six hours makes me groggy and lethargic the following day.

I’m not sure why six is the magic number but when I am able to get six hours, I feel like I’m in my sweet spot for the rest of the day.

The other pattern was discovered last September when my family and I were in Germany. My wife challenged me to shift my sleeping schedule from staying up late and waking up late to sleeping early and waking up earlier. At first I was skeptical it would work, but I had jet lag to thank in achieving this goal.

My son wakes up around 6:30 ~ 7 in the morning and I’m in charge of morning duties. So to get any benefits from waking up early meant I had to wake up around 3:30. Only needing 6 hours of sleep meant I had to be asleep by 9:30 the night before.

Sleeping at 9:30 at night sounded ludicrous at first but I was going to start this sleep shift in Germany. So it really meant going to bed at 3:30 AM in Germany and waking up at 9:30 AM. That didn’t sound so bad.

So during the last week we were in Germany I did just that. It was hard at first, since by that time we had already been in Germany for a couple of weeks and my sleep schedule started to normalize to Central European Time. But I stuck to the schedule and by the time we came back to the States, just as I expected, I got tired at 9:30 each night and I woke up at 3:30 ~ 4:00 every morning.

The benefits of waking up earlier were, I was able to squeeze in a couple of hours of uninterrupted coding for CodeHive, I also did some light reading and by the time my son woke up, I wasn’t that cranky.

Prior to the morning shift, my son acted as my alarm. When he woke up, I’d stumble across our home to his room to get him out of bed. I’d then stick him in front of his toys and usually dosed off for a few more minutes.

Now that I’m on my morning shift, I’ve already been awake for a few hours so when I grab my son, I’m alert and tentative to his needs. We’ll usually play with Legos, eat breakfast and hang out until my wife wakes up.

I’ve read articles in the past that many successful people start their mornings off early. I can definitely see the benefits of doing so. I’m a believer of the morning shift.

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