I Hate You! But I Need You.

Sun en face

Sun en face (Photo credit: Forsetius)

Early morning.  I have a complicated relationship with my alarm clock–not so affectionately known as the egg–and sunrise.  I am not an early riser by nature, but I’ve learned to be.  Much as I love my bed, I am not and never was someone who could jump out of it and be out the door in twenty minutes.  I need my coffee, I need to sit in peace before I start the day.  And then I need more coffee.

This trait is  one of very few things about my life and myself that hasn’t changed with time and circumstance.

When I was younger and lived by myself, I was one of those people who needed two alarm clocks; one by the bed, and one across the room that would ring after I had hit the snooze on the one by the bed three or four times.  Between years long issues with insomnia and a work schedule that was very inconsistent,  I needed both of them.  Let me just say, the ability to sleep through multiple alarms combined with being neurotically prompt can make for some very unpleasant mornings.

During the week, I get up between 5 and 5:30AM.  Weekends, it depends how stressful the week has been.  The more stress, the more I stick to the weekday schedule, even if the laptop tells me it’s Sunday.

old alarm clock

old alarm clock (Photo credit: K. Yasuhara)

Husband thinks I’m crazy, because technically, I could get another hour to an hour and a half of sleep each day.  (To be fair, there are many reasons Husband thinks I’m nuts, but I’m comfortable writing about this one).  I need time to myself, by myself.  Does this make me a selfish person?  Maybe it does, but I still need it.  Am I bleary eyed and exhausted long before I can go to bed each night?  Yup, but I’d rather have the time alone than the extra sleep.  Trust me, I’d be a whole lot crazier without this time.

Added bonus, the jackhammers haven’t started that early in the day.  You know, the background music of the city that never ever ends.

You would think that by this point I’m a morning person, but I’m not.  I do like sitting on the balcony and watching the sky get pink as the sun rises.

Are you a morning person? Night person?  My favorite shift to work was a swing shift, either 4-midnight five days a week or noon-10 four days a week.  What about yourself hasn’t changed, through marital status, careers, parental status, etc?

I’d like to tell you I use this time to pray or meditate or contemplate the meaning of life, or even bond with the dogs, but I don’t.  I use it to just sit quietly, make and drink my coffee, zone out, and enjoy the peace.  I stare into the tank and watch for the pink streaked wrasse to wake up–he starts cruising, hunting for pods between the corals as soon as the sky lightens.  Sometimes I surf Facebook, but I don’t post at that hour.  I used to use that time to write, but it’s never successful as a long term writing plan, because then I’m missing that me time.  It is the only time of day when I can, somewhat consistently, get the living room to myself.  Five people on different schedules and a small space, you have to be creative.

And willing to sacrifice sleep.

Live on coffee and flowers

Live on coffee and flowers (Photo credit: thomasheylen)


  1. I get up early too, if I wake and just listen to the quiet. I am a loner at heart. Lots hasn’t changed, I am still very quirky and a bit mad, I never drink tea or coffee blah, I love to travel, I love quiet and can just sink into long moments of nothing.


  2. I have been a night owl from my earliest memories of despising the alarm clock and fighting bedtime. And the feeling of waking up in the morning, looking at the clock and knowing I can go back to sleep again for a while is a wonderful feeling. If I wake up substantially earlier than I have to, odds are I will fall right back to sleep, completely upright with coffee in hand. 😀 I crave that quiet time though, and generally get it at night, no matter how late I have to stay up to get it.

    One past job required crack of dawn start time. Since I had a child who also considered crack of dawn to be sleeping in, I made it work but hated it. Prior to that I worked second shift hours for about 6 years and that really did work well with my body clock.

    I do agree the crazier our lives get the more we need that respite, no matter how it comes, to clear our heads.


    1. I used to enjoy both, quiet time at the beginning and the end of each day, but, well, live gets busier, doesn’t it?

      I had one of those children too, it certainly was a crash course in waking up, no? 🙂


  3. I’m not naturally a morning person either and totally understand your desire to sit quiet with coffee and zone out. I get up 2-2.5 hours before I leave for work. And since I get up so early, I now go to bed quite early because I need 8 hours sleep, if I don’t get it, I can’t function.


    1. Perfect, you illustrate the point that if you need that time, it isn’t just because there are others around, it’s just getting your head clear for the day.

      8 hours sounds luxurious, a very distant memory.


  4. If I could make my perfect schedule I would have an hour in the morning – a couple at midday and about three late at night for “me time”. Sadly work interrupts the heck out of this. I set my alarm for an hour before I leave and actually get up 20 minutes before I leave. I have to set out my clothes, make up, and medicines the night before because I am a zombie in the morning. After a day at work I get things done at the house and take that last 2 hours and just take in the quiet. Sometimes that 2 hours starts at 10, sometimes it starts at midnight. I will sacrifice sleep for it too – just at the beginning, not the end 🙂


    1. I like your thinking–we all need a siesta in the middle of the day. :p

      20 minutes to get out the door? No can do. Quiet time is quiet time, if I lived alone, I think I would go back to my old habits of needing that space at the beginning and the end of the day. 🙂


      1. 20 minutes – it’s crazy, but I can’t give up any more sleep for more time 🙂 Everything has to be set up for that to happen though. I could use that siesta right about now!


        1. I wish I could figure out how to get more sleep without sacrificing the me time 🙂
          Flower Child needs a looooong time to get ready, so I set up everything for her the night before (except meds, cause the dogs would eat them).


  5. I am exactly like you in this area. Totally not a morning person by nature, but I need that quiet space w/my cup of coffee to feel “human”. I can also very much identify with the love of and ability to “sink into long moments of nothing”. Doesn’t happen so much anymore, but when I last lived on my own I used to practically live on my 2nd story back porch. I’d lean back in my chair, prop my feet on the rail and just stare into all the leafy greenery in my backyard. (I live in the South, so there’s a lot of it.) It was a kind of peaceful, meditative thing for me. If I don’t get some small measure of quiet and peace to myself at some point in the day, I am out of sorts and off track for the entire day.


    1. Yes! If I don’t get that morning space, I am super cranky, no matter what the day holds. I love the image of you staring off into the Southern landscape, perfection. ❤


  6. Wow, we could be sisters! I set my clock 30minutes ahead so when my alarm goes off at 4:45am it’s actually much earlier to account for a punch to the snooze button. But I get cranky if I don’t get up early enough to enjoy my breakfast (yogurt and a low carb tortilla with a soda) in PEACE. I need some personal centering time before the men in my life begin their noisy morning grunts and groans. My husband tells me to skip playing games with the clock and just get up at 4:45 but I gotta make sure I have my time. He also says my breakfast choices suck but that’s another issue. Loved this post, soul sister!


  7. Not a morning person by DNA, I’ve started waking up with the sunrise here. Everybody does. It’s the most comfortable part of the day…sunrises and sunsets are spectacular…and, then there’s the Howler monkeys across the street ! Lucky to live in a coffee producing country, since I share what sounds like your main fuel supply. I feel lucky to have a balcony where cows walk by, parrots fly by, and the locals always wave or yell out a morning greeting…guess they’re not used to seeing gringos up early.


    1. Did I already mention that Costa Rica sounds heavenly? minus the Howler monkeys 😉

      I can’t imagine living somewhere coffee and parrots fly freely. Clearly, you’re in paradise.


      1. As long as you don’t mind living on the most active tectonic plates in the world, it is a paradise – sometimes. My wife saw in the paper that there were nearly 12,000 recorded seismic events here last year, centered 30 km from in a town called Nicoya. Had one last night that lasted for about a minute, and it knocked out the internet. I can live with one earthquake a month, which is about average…the 11,950 tremblers don’t count if I can’t feel them.


  8. I’m so much a night person I’m nearly nocturnal and it’s a habit I do wish I could break. Recently (well, last few months) my bedtime is somewhere between 2am and 4am… that’s how bad it is. Worse is that I don’t sleep well. But I don’t need to get up for work (long story, health issues) so it doesn’t matter much if I surface late.

    If I ever need to go out and have to set the alarm, I usually wake up before it goes off… not sure if my body senses it or what. That’s not to say I don’t sometimes go back to sleep and forget to get up anyway, though! 😉

    Nothing much has changed through my life apropos this… I suppose as a child I managed early nights, but not for a very long time.


    1. If your life allows you to, I think it makes sense to follow your body’s natural rhythms for sleep. The only problem is when you need to interact with other people who aren’t nocturnal. 🙂

      Not sleeping well is the worst, it makes everything harder. I’ve had on and off issues with insomnia my entire life. I’m in a good phase now, but still wake frequently because Flower Child often doesn’t sleep well.
      Now I’m imagining Mama Val begging you to go to sleep, so she could have an hour to herself 😉


  9. I was like you – not a naturally early riser and needing an alarm clock to wake me – and feeling like a zombie yet needing that ‘me’ time that an early start gave me. Then many years ago my uncle taught me to try waking without an alarm clock, telling me my ‘inner clock’ would know and wake me at the correct time. I thought he was crazy! However, a few years later I tried it and it worked and I have never looked back. An alarm clock will wake you at the designated time whether you are in a phase of deep sleep or REM (rapid eye movement – lighter) sleep. If you wake during a deep sleep you feel like a zombie. If you wake by your body clock, you always wake during a period of REM sleep and you feel great. After a while of waking up this way, you can wake earlier if you need to, and you will still wake during a REM phase. This actually works. I have been doing it for over thirty years and I never use an alarm (unless I need to catch a really early plane). I wake about 5 am and watch the sunrise every day. I look forward to each and every day and I feel absolutely great when I wake.


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