Sleeping the Sleep of the Aging

stack of pillowsI’m exaggerating, of course, calling myself “aging.” I mean, on the one hand, we’re all aging, every minute of every day, no matter how long it’s been since we were born. On the other hand, the word brings to mind 80-year-olds who are slowing down, if not already infirm. I’m definitely not that.

But I *have* found some odd things happening lately, specifically with regard to my sleeping habits. All my life, I’ve been a night owl. My ideal day would be to get up at 10 a.m. and go to bed at 2:00 a.m. There were a LOT of nights I stayed up working or playing until 2 anyway, even if I had to get up four hours later. By the end of the week I had difficulty driving home (I know! No scolding necessary) and I’d catch up by sleeping late on the weekends. Some Sundays I slept until noon.

I have a friend who’s three months younger than me, and she used to have the same rhythms. We’d often be IMing at 1:00 as we were finishing up our word counts. A few years ago, she started saying she couldn’t handle being up that late anymore. That wasn’t an issue for me. If I was reasonably well rested, I had no problem staying up late.

Then last year happened. Deadline after deadline after deadline, and my freelance workload just kept climbing. Right before all that hit, I was getting up at 5 and going to the health club in the morning before work. I could only sustain that until the deadlines hit, but then I started getting up at 5 or 5:30 to do freelance work before I went to work. The deadlines are all past, but the freelance work and the promotional requirements are keeping me at that schedule. I haven’t been working as late into the night as I often have in the past, because that’s my relaxation/TV/reading time, and I’m increasingly resentful of how much time I spend working. I also know very well how many health issues are caused or exacerbated by lack of sleep, so I’m trying to make sure I get more than 5 hours. I succeed about half the week. It’s crazy! Sometimes I’m in bed evenΒ before 10:00!

But here’s the thing: After two decades of being unable to change my body, of being a night owl no matter how little sleep I get, of being capable of “sleeping in” until half the day is gone…now that’s all backwards. Five a.m. doesn’t seem so rough anymore, and I actually feel good about turning off the light at 10, with no trouble falling asleep.

And I don’t like it.

I don’t want to be the person who can’t sleep past 4:30 a.m., who dozes off during football games or the evening news and has to be in bed by nine. I hate that on a Saturday morning I’ll get up to go to the bathroom at 7 and then can’t go back to sleep, even if I have no obligations to get up for. I am rebelling hard against this shift.

Unfortunately, I can’t see it changing. I still have no time to write, and if I’m going to fit that AND exercise into my day, I have to get up that early. The more I do it, the more acclimated I’ll be, and the older I will feel. And that’s just bull****!

We have a wide variety here at ENALR, so I’m curious. What are YOUR preferred sleep habits, and have they changed?