I love going to bed early, I always have. As a kid I’d go to bed early and I’d get up really early, – it’s just naturally what I did.
Even when I was in my early teens I did this. I would always be up before 6 am to do my paper round. What I really loved was that it was quiet, no one else was around apart from the birds, a little wildlife and the sun coming up – it was a really precious time. In the summer time I would be up out of bed extra early, by 5 am, and after my paper round I’d go for a swim at the open air swimming pool before cycling to school and just about getting to the class register in time… it felt great.
What didn’t feel good was when I used to have to wait for my dad to pick me up from my grandma’s house in the evenings. Often he would work late till 10 pm or later, and I would be dog tired, trying to stay awake, wishing I could go to bed. This would make it a struggle to get up the next day and I would be like a zombie in the mornings and it felt awful. I would rarely speak to anyone in this state.
When I progressed into my later teens and life became about going out in the evenings and drinking, clubbing and taking drugs, I really suffered. Often I would go straight to work in a restaurant that morning (without going to bed at all) and my dad would have to meet me with my work uniform at the train station.
When these sorts of weekends happened and I had ignored my sleep rhythm completely, I would usually get sick. Often I would suffer from tonsillitis, or I would feel completely wiped out and needing to stay in bed for a few days, feeling feverish and depleted. This happened regularly, as during this time I rarely listened to my body at all.
I still don’t like the feeling of being really knackered when I go to bed. Even if I lie in the next day, I don’t feel as energised as when I have an early night. In fact, if I doze on or fall asleep again, I can feel really groggy from too much sleep or not having the right quality of sleep.
It’s like I’m not honouring my body when I’m ready to wake up and start the day. This is the same as not honouring what I’m feeling when I’m tired and ready to go to sleep.
At the time I was working full time 9 am to 6 pm, commuting 3 hours each day, and studying. I would get home around 7.30 pm, have supper, and would try to read or do homework afterwards, but of course I was too tired. I began setting my alarm for about 5 am, and actually did my reading and assignments in bed. Sometimes I would go for a swim before work and for the first time ever, I would make myself a healthy and delicious breakfast before I left the house, rather than rushing out the door and grabbing a snack at the train station. Suddenly, mornings were my absolute favourite time of the day again:
I was allowing myself the time to do various tasks without rushing and I even enjoyed my commute, as there was time to walk along the river instead of catching a bus.
Now I go to bed between 9 and 10 pm, sometimes earlier. I love going to bed early, getting into bed and snuggling, writing in my diary, drinking herbal tea and massaging cream into my hands. I love waking early and I get so much done in that time, whether it’s writing, cooking, studying, exercise, massage … If I tried to do these things in the evening after working all day, I know I would be feeling too tired to enjoy them in the same way.
In the evenings I can come home and start winding down from my day, knowing any other tasks I have to do can be done when I wake up bright as a button the next morning. I don’t feel the need to stay up late after a day at work to have ‘me’ time, as I have already had this before work.
It feels natural to me and makes so much sense to go to bed early when I begin feeling tired in the evening, rather than staying up late and actually waking up still feeling tired before a new day ahead. I’m still refining this rhythm and my sleep, as sometimes I might eat too much in the evening, slob out, or eat something sweet, and consequently I struggle to get up in the morning, so I’m beginning to notice more how I am and what I’m doing at the end of my day to ensure I feel great when I wake.
What’s interesting is that the same principle also plays out throughout the day. I notice if I eat too much at lunchtime or don’t take a break from my desk, I can get sleepy or unfocussed. What started off as just experimenting with going to bed a little earlier and doing homework in the morning instead of the evening, has developed into a rhythm that supports me throughout my whole day.
My body is always telling me what it likes and what it doesn’t. I am learning to listen and honour this and take more care of myself. Winding down from my day and going to bed early has certainly been a big part of the way I now self-care.
By Laura Hoy, Essential Oil Consultant, Company Manager, Brighton, UK