So far, I have lived my life blessed by perfect health. I’ve never broken a bone, I’ve never spent a night at the hospital and my hair shows no sign of receding any time soon. Other than seasonal allergies and chronic sinus pressure, I have been lucky enough to survive the past 28 years without any major physical medical conditions. However, there is one problem that has been plaguing me for as long as I can remember and I have yet to find a solution for it.
I am unable to wake up early. And it is taking its toll on me.
Yes, I am aware that out of all the problems I could possibly have in my life, this is by far the least important and the most easily fixed. “Get some alarm clocks,” you could say to me, “and stop being lazy.” You could suggest that I go to bed earlier; that I drink a cup of Sleepytime Herbal Tea every night before bed; that I have my roommates come in every morning and throw water at me/punch me in the face.
All these are perfectly reasonable suggestions, and all could understandably be said with more than just a touch of scorn when you say it. But the fact remains that I have tried all these methods (and many, many more). I have at least five alarm clocks, none of which have snooze buttons and none even close to being at arm’s length from my bed. I have set up habits that put me in a sleepy mood earlier in the evening. I have taken pills. I have done everything save be shocked with a cattle prod in the morning. (…now, there’s an idea…) Going to bed earlier makes absolutely no difference — in fact, I’m actually more tired when I go to bed at 9 than when I do at 11. I tried Ambien one time at about 6 p.m. and I woke up at 3 p.m. the next day. Despite my every effort, I am still unable to separate myself from my bed sheets and achieve the magic combo: both at an early hour, and fully rested.
Yes, I am somewhat of a nightowl. Yes, I feel I can achieve a lot at night. I was the master of all-nighters in college. But I actually love mornings. When I was very young, my parents (who have always been early-risers) would go waterskiing every morning, and they would wake me up at dawn to take me on the speedboat with them. I loved it. I love the smell of mornings. I love the idea of waking up with enough time to shower, shave, make some coffee and have breakfast while taking in some early news, and arrive at work 5 or 10 minutes before I’m supposed to be there. This would be perfection.
As it stands, however, I fully gain consciousness 5 minutes before entry time at work, with all my alarm clocks off (despite the fact that I’d set them all on the night before), with my phone in my hand (alarm off, of course) despite the fact that I’d left it charging on my desk the night before, and with absolutely zero energy to get up. This is the case every day.
Now, I commend my dad for being able to wake me up every day in time throughout my high school years. In college, 8:30 classes were my bane — my advisor coined the term “pulling an Emil” for anyone who arrived late. I have missed planes and trains and midterms and breakfast dates. Whenever I’ve traveled and stayed with family friends, I haven’t slept for fear of waking up extremely late and being impolite to my hosts.
But all this pales in comparison to the damage this does at work. I know for a fact that all my past employers would list “tardiness” as the number one negative against me. At one of my old jobs, we got a new boss that liked to have a “smart hours” schedule, which I took to mean as flexible arrival/departure time, and my heart sank when she explained it as “arrive early, leave early.” Six months later, I was laid off. Now, I consider myself a hard worker, but I am aware that everything I bring to the table is chipped away by the simple fact that I am not at my desk at a certain point in time. Ideally, I could find a job that would let me come in late, or come in and out as I please, but so far, no dice.
To say that this is embarrassing to me is an understatement. It makes me look unprofessional and unprepared. It probably means I am both of those things. Being in my late twenties and having most of the basics of life checked off (a roof over my head, a decent job, a ramen-less diet), sleeping in is one of the last vestiges of pre-school-like behavior (along with an affinity for comic books and mildly-soggy Frosted Flakes) that I need to eliminate from my behavioral patterns at all costs. I literally cannot keep sleeping on my laurels.
On Sunday, the US switched to Daylight Savings Time, which I have never been able to fully understand save for the fact that it takes one precious hour of sleep away — one less hour to find myself at the office. Needless to say, Daylight Savings Time scares the crap out of me. But I shall endeavor to be at the office on time all this week. And the next. And the next. (And the next.)
Bring it on, Daylight Savings Time. Bring it on.