Friday, July 10, 2009

Early Morning Wakings

It is 7:07am and I have been out of bed since 5:00am; wide awake since 4:12am. Usually I would stay in bed when I wake that early, but Dr X. was telling me about a book he read. Part of the book...unfortunately I cannot remember the name...talked about how different cultures sleep, view sleep and manage waking earlier than expected/needed.

The author explained that in some indigenous cultures, when people woke in the middle of the night they did not stay in bed and wait impatiently for sleep to come, but instead got out of bed, made some tea, talked with others, and when sleepy, went back to bed

I know for many of us with mood disorders sleep regulation is an important component to working towards a healthy, or healthier, mood. So talk with your pdoc before trying this...but I have been trying this the past few

Normally, if I woke before I wanted to get up, I would lay in bed, get annoyed and frustrated I couldn't sleep, and then, of course, fall asleep right before I needed to get up. The past few days I have been getting out of bed much, much earlier than normal. I have then been crawling back into bed for a nap around 11 or 12 am; and trying really hard to just let that be okay.

I love the early morning. The light is beautiful as the sun creeps into the sky. The sun creates a light that heightens the red tones and brightens the green in anything that crosses its path. The natural world looks and feels more vibrant, even more miraculously glorious than it usually appears.

Yesterday morning I got out of bed and went out to the university where my pdoc appointment is an hour early and I walked my dog for about 45 minutes around the campus. It was gorgeous and there were few people about.

This morning, when I woke around 4am I was going to get out of bed, but my boyfriend, sound asleep wrapped his arms around me instead. To be held and silently and subconsciously loved by someone I care so deeply for felt too good to interrupt. So I pulled closer to him and lay quietly in his arms. At 5am though I was so wide awake I clambered out of his arms, got up and made some coffee.

It was then I had the brilliant idea to take my dog to the park for a run. During the day there are too many people around and I risk the city by-law officer 's wrath if I have my dog off-leash in the park. This morning at 5:30 hardly anyone was around and I let my dog run free. It was so great to watch him so free and funny

I am going to try this wake up idea for the next few weeks and see how it goes. I can see problems with the theory in a country like mine, where if I want to work, napping at 11am isn't going to work. Right now though, my schedule is such that most days I can manage a nap in the late morning or early afternoon. So why not try it.


Anonymous said...

Hey Aqua,

I think that the book that Dr. X. was referring to is At Day's Close: Nights in Times Past, by Roger Ekirch. It was reviewed awhile back in Psychotherapy Networker. I read about it in Utne Reader. A link to the article is here:

It is a really interesting does make me question the tendency to pathologize "disordered sleep", when the problem maybe has more to do with an incompatibility between work/school schedules and natural sleep patterns. (I would personally be very happy if my work day could begin at 5 am!-- because this when I am most alert and feel most able to read/ focus/ concentrate/ etc).


P.S. I love that photo!

Anonymous said...

I have the same problem with waking up early. I usually stay in bed until the alarm goes off even though I am wide awake. Getting up and walking the dog sounds sounds like a great idea.

My only problem is that I get really tired in the afternoon and napping makes me feel out of it for the rest of the day. But I think your idea may be worth a try.


Rach said...

I love the beach near that university... when I was out there, I spent a day on the campus and was so impressed with how beautiful it was.

Aqua said...

Thanks for the info. Welcome to my site. I love that photo too.

Hi Michelle,
I know for me, sometimes if I have a shorter nap(20 minutes vs.1-2 hr something like 20 minutes, I feel better than if I slept longer...the longer naps often ,make me really groggy. I 'd love to hear how your sleep experiment goes if you try this.

Hi Rach,
Are you refering to Wreck Beach? One time I was at a lookout near the university and this couple asked me where wreck beach was, so I explained, then they asked me what kind of ship wrecks were down there and I started laughing and explained that the each was a nude beach...they were shocked at the info. It is a beautiful beach though...all the beaches in Vancouver are stunning. I love this city.

Polar Bear said...

It is nice sometimes - at dawn when no one is about and it seems you have the whole world to yourself. I think it's healthy to get up when you feel the need to instead of fighting to fall asleep again.