So, I was diddling about on my laptop this morning, procrastinating and time-wasting as per, when my daily email came through from Medium Daily Digest. It’s an American website, big on mental health articles, and I pay my $4 a month in the vain hope there may be some story ideas to nick.
Anyway, at 8.30am, this arrived. I almost spat out my skinny latte (sorry, sleep hygienists, it’s my one-a-day).
For some reason WordPress wouldn’t let me ’embed’ the link so you can have access – shame, it had a cool illustration. So I’ve just pasted the first few paragraphs here. (For reasons unknown, it’s justified centrally, like a menu).
The title of the piece is: How to Wake Up at 5am Every Day. How, Bryan Ye? HOW? You have bloody insomnia, that’s how!
Bryan’s article follows on from some research this summer from the University of California, which said that we are programmed to be a certain ‘chronotype’ – a term given to describe our natural time-preferences for waking, activity and sleep.
Scientists believe our body clocks are set by genetic code, but they are designed to adapt to our environment, and change as we get older.
So, for example, children and the elderly tend to be early birds, whereas teenagers have a delayed clock, which makes it genuinely difficult for them to go to bed early or wake up early in the morning (hmm). Men under the age of 40 have ‘later’ chronotypes than women – which is why they can always stay up til the end of Match of the Day on Saturday nights – but earlier chronotypes in later life.
A further study went on to say that chronotypes are fifty per cent determined by your genes, but there are techniques by which you can change yours. More on it here, below, in my Telegraph Insomnia Diary on the subject.
In the Medium piece, the writer is trying to change his chronotype to become an early bird, because he’s heard early mornings are the best time of day to be creative. It made me snicker because I thought: FINALLY. I am effortlessly good at something.
But, then, I thought about it a bit more. He has a point about those early hours.
Right now, it’s 06.37am, and still pitch black outside. I’ve been awake since around five thirty. I’m sitting in the kitchen with my stuff spread out all over the kitchen table, drinking my One A Day Latte, writing this.
It’s quiet (the rest of the house don’t get up til about 7.3o. I have already asked Alexa to play some of my ‘morning songs’. These include:
* I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash (remember the 80s cinema Nescafé ad where the girl makes a cup of coffee in her car at sunrise, with one of those water-heater things?)
* Here Comes The Sun and Good Day, Sunshine, by The Beatles
* Lovely Day, by Bill Withers
* Good Morning, Good Morning from Singing In The Rain
* Morning Has Broken (Cat Stevens’ version)
While I’m listening to these, I start work. And, yes Bryan Ye, without sounding too w*nky, I agree with you. This is a creative time of day. I do my best writing between 5.30 and 8am, and some of my clearest thinking.
In a few minutes (will it EVER get light this morning? It’s ten to seven and still inky out there) I will salute the sun and address the day.
It wasn’t always like this. In the worst period of my insomnia (Summer 2010 – Jan 2019), I HATED the early mornings with a passion. The dawn chorus made me want to commit mass murder because I couldn’t face another day on this diet of exhaustion.
But now I’m a solid five-hour-a-nighter, I increasingly love the pre-dawn hours. My friend, the Contrarian (her word) columnist Julie Burchill, calls her insomnia Extra Life.
At 07.52 this morning – if the morning ever decides to break – I think she has a point.