Maybe Your Sleep Problem Isn’t a Problem

I always enjoy coming across articles like the one above (you should read it, too) that tell my old story: the story of a person who for literal decades proudly proclaimed “I’m not a morning person”.

I’ve spent most of my adult life lamenting about how ungodly it was to be up before the ass-crack of dawn, bitterly cursing when I needed to trudge to the shower at 5am to prepare for some early obligation. I remember a business trip a few years back with an early-rising sales rep that had me up at 3:30am three days in a row to make 6am flights between cities, rather than my usual routine of evening flights the night before.

Ok, I think that last scenario even dedicated Larks would agree was a ridiculous idea. But what I’m getting at is that nobody (with the possible exception of my oldest sister) can claim more Not-a-morning-person cred than myself.

And I don’t want to sit here and tell people like the author of the above piece that they can change. “Pray-away-the-lazy”, as it were. We recently had Daniel Pink (author of Drive! and When) give a talk at our office. I definitely buy the science that he aggregates for us in his book When which tells us that certain people are genuinely wired as Owls, and that society wants to kill them. I thought that was me; I even remember being spot-tested for my crono-type by Daniel directly and him informing me that I was “owl-ish”.

And then, as if by magic, I changed into a Lark. Or (plot twist), did I actually just discover that I was a Lark all along?

People who love touting the fact that they’re not “morning people” remind me of a similar group of people who are proud of “not being good at math”. For the vast majority of people, lack of mathematics ability equates directly to the level of effort they’ve put into learning it – functionally zero. Relating this to myself, I can honestly say that my lack of morning-person skills were directly attributed to not developing the right habits to support it.

That changed about six weeks ago. I had read a number of books that talked about the need for getting enough sleep. One author said seven hours. Greg McKeown (Essentialism) made a convincing case for eight.  I then got introduced to the “Morning Sidekick” accountability journal and began using it immediately. Six weeks later, I am up at 5am every weekday (hopefully soon I will extend this to weekends as well) and killing it at work two hours later, usually 45-50 minutes early.

This has taken discipline and compromise, but after cutting out the wrong things and adding in the right things here I am. Mr Hates-the-morning guy is now excited to hit the bricks at 9pm on a Tuesday to roll it over and get started early on making Wednesday even better. Perhaps a true Owl would not be able to fight their DNA and accomplish this, but how many Owls out there are just Larks with bad habits? If you think you might be one, there is only one way to find out.

photo credit: david cooper

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