It’s 9:35 and I’m Still Not Out Running

I read another one of those blog posts yesterday. The how-I-got-in-the-best shape-of-my-life-by-working-out-at-5:30 AM posts. She said I know, I know, I never thought I could do it, either. I’m not one of THOSE people who gets up at dawn with a friggin smile.

But she said after a few hard weeks, she’d got in the swing and everything had changed.

That’s what they always say.

I’ve tried this before, and it’s never changed, but I thought, well, I’m older now, and they say as you age your body clock shifts, and it can be easier to wake up earlier. I want more time in my day. Being a late riser kind of screws you that way. Also, it’s been really hot here, and it sure would be nice to get the aerobic workout in before the worst part of the day hits.

So I set the alarm for 6 AM, to break in a little gently.

And didn’t even fall asleep till around 4. Neither did my husband, who had to wake up at 6 anyway, to get to work.

We don’t know why. Neither of us is particularly uptight about anything right now. We have some general worries. Money. Our old dog. The fact that we’re getting fat. Global warming. Nothing to lose sleep over in the near term.

The best-laid plans are easily derailed by lack of sleep. Whether it’s a workout, an agreement to grab coffee with a friend, or the intention to write 2000 words by noon, it all goes to hell if you don’t fall asleep till birdsong. Not a disaster if it happens once in week, but if it’s three or four times, you might as well stop pretending that you work out regularly, let alone at 5:30 AM.

I’ve kept journals since seventh grade, and pretty much all they say, other than I’m SO fucking fat (and that boy is SO cute), is how tired I am, how badly I slept. I’ve tried a lot of approaches to this issue throughout in my life. Yoga, meditation, naturopathic remedies, cranial work, acupuncture, homeopathy, dietary changes, pharmaceuticals, certain supplements (melatonin, 5-HTTP, and L-tryptophan do not work for me, just to forestall any barrage of well-meaning suggestions; anything that boosts serotonin makes things worse). I’m about to look into Yoga Nidra as a practice. I know that I benefit from sustained cranial and acupuncture treatments, but can’t afford them right now.

I’m aware of the sleep hygiene protocols, how you shouldn’t have any A/C current running in the bedroom—no lights on, no clock radios, nothing with a little tiny light, no wired carbon monoxide alarms. Everything battery-operated only. I use a sleep mask. I don’t even know how to get my eyelids heavy except by reading, so I have to ignore that part of the experts’ advice. I don’t think they understand how much my mind would race if I didn’t have a book to focus it on.

The purpose of this post is not to seek advice in treating my sleep disorder. It’s been with me probably since birth and is likely hardwired. Instead, I’m wondering how, given this reality, one manages to work around it, to stick to any kind of routine. Seriously. I’m 50 years old and I don’t know the answer to this question. I designed and launched a number of new routines and systems meant to address the fact that I can never predict my sleep patterns, and can never predict my overall physical or mental energy. (There are times when I don’t sleep and still have tons of energy, and times when I do sleep and have none, and vice versa x 2).

I guess the only real trick is not getting discouraged. Can’t run the hour that I planned? Run 30 minutes. Or walk. Too stupid today to write? Reread what I wrote some previous day; just try to stay in touch with the project. I might not be able, especially at 50, to climb and ski at the level I hoped for, but—well, but.

Tomorrow I’ll set the clock for 6 AM again and see what happens.

2 thoughts on “It’s 9:35 and I’m Still Not Out Running

  1. Oh, Claudia, me, too. I find if I can sleep six hours I’m doing well. And a couple of times a year I’ll sleep 8 hours (only waking twice or thrice) and it’s like a revelation. I could get so much done if only I could sleep. But like you, this is hardwired into me. At seven years of age, I woke my mom and said, “How do you fall asleep?”

    For me, some hormones have helped — at least in keeping me asleep for three solid hours. Today, I managed to get to the gym at 10am. I don’t know what I’d do if I had a job with “normal” hours.

  2. I’m sorry, Claudia. Insomnia is so tough to deal with. My daughter is a chronic insomniac, and we’ve watched her suffer with it over the years, sometimes with hearts breaking. I hope you find some peace with this.

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