I used to think I was a night owl. I loved to stay up into the wee hours of the morning. I kept what people call the vampire hours. I would read, write, watch movies, and sometimes even do things like sew, crochet, or make some kind of DIY project. I would be happily awake until I couldn’t keep my eyes open any more.
But of course, I had a terrible time getting out of bed. I would get 4-6 hours of sleep most days, and then sleep for 12 or more hours wen I had a day off. I regularly overslept for appointments. And I was unhappy to be awake. The daylight hours were a burden. And because I hated it so much, I had a lot of disdain for people who loved the morning.
I have come to realize in the past ten years that I am not a night owl by nature. I am a sugar addict. All of that energy that kept me awake was from sugar, from being high on sugar. That’s how I stayed up all hours of the night. And when I couldn’t keep my eyes open, I wasn’t falling asleep, I was passing out.
When it comes down to it, I have a love/hate relationship with people. I’m fun and funny and charming (and humble, as my husband would point out.) But I am an addict. And addicts are, by definition, bad at relationships. I am anxious. I want to be liked. I am afraid of humiliation. So, along with being hopped up on sugar, I was probably awake in the middle of the night because it was time when I could be alone. Being alone in the dark with a chocolate cake and a pack of cigarettes was always easier for me than being out in the world where the other humans were wandering free. (By the way, I still love to be alone. To this day I spend a lot of time in solitude, and it is a necessity for my happiness. I may not be a night owl anymore, but I am still, and will probably always be, a loner.)
So when I gave up sugar and put boundaries around my eating, I stopped getting the energy at night from the sugar, and wound up sleeping at night. And because I was eating nutritious food, I wasn’t passing out from my drug, but actually sleeping. So I would wake up refreshed.
And then I realized that I love the morning. I love the quiet and the stillness (or relative stillness when I was in New York City.) It’s funny, because it was really a gradual change. 10 years ago, morning was 8 a.m. (Hey, for a girl who couldn’t drag her butt out of bed before noon without threat of death, 8 was pretty freaking early. I was impressed with myself.) Eventually morning became more like 7. And then was really 6 or 6:30. And now, in the past 5 months, I get up every day at 5:30.
I take my jog early, have breakfast, run errands, do a silent knitting meditation, and write for 3 or 4 hours. I get all of these things done in a day before the sugar addict night owl I used to be would even have gotten out of bed.
But there is another reason that I can love the morning, another reason I can happily wake up at 5:30 and not be cranky and angry. I go to bed. I regularly sleep 8 hours a night. It’s important to me. I don’t hate going to sleep like I used to. I don’t fight to keep my eyes open a little longer. I am not afraid I am going to miss anything. I look forward to the end of the day, when I lay on the couch and read a little. Maybe I still want to read one more chapter, but I know that the book will be there tomorrow. And there is something satisfying about another day done.
I really believed once that being a night owl was an unalterable part of being me. I thought it was the way I was made. And it made my life harder. It’s hard on a person’s spirit to always be late, or worried about being late. It’s hard to live in a body that is in physical pain from lack of restful sleep. It’s hard to be cranky and angry because it’s daytime. So I am glad to be a morning person, even if young Kate would look at me with disdain. She can think what she likes.