You all know my propensity for hating getting up in the morning, right? It hasn’t always been this way. Before B4 came along I wouldn’t have been able to pin point whether I was a night owl or a morning bird. I was awake 22 out of 24 hours a day, and that included early morning and late night. I slept from about 5 to about 630-7 in the morning. After B was born and cried almost constantly over night, I took to sleeping when I could get it, which more often than not was when she slept early morning from 6 until 8 or 9. I began to find getting up early really hard. But it was a season so I continued on without guilt.
Eighteen months ago a GP, who goes to my church and whom I had never seen before, figured out what was causing the insomnia I had lived with for forty years and with the help of a medicine which stops my nerve endings sending excessive electrical impulses (it slowed my mind down from thinking at 180 mph to under 10 mph) for the first time in my life I slept. And I slept. And I slept. Mum said I was just catching up on years of not sleeping. It was really rather special. I would fall asleep at 10pm and not wake up until gone 8am each morning. Over ten hours each night, almost the same as I had managed each week prior to being on the medicine!
A year or so later I would call myself a night owl because I was going to bed later and getting up was becoming really, really hard. Really hard. And then mid December God told me to get up early. Really? I mentally argued with Him. I couldn’t, I told Him. I had only just learnt to sleep, He couldn’t take that away from me, could He? God is stronger than me and He knows what is best, so I relented and began to rise with Gary at 5pm. When it was dark. When it was still night. When, frankly, I should have been tucked up in the Land of Nod.
Getting up early, though, has blessed every single member of my family, including me. Who knew?
The Benefits to Rising Early for the Homeschooling Mum
- Better Quality Sleep
I have found I am falling asleep quicker, and having a much deeper sleep. I used this fun gadget to figure out the most optimum time for me to aim to tuck down by, in order to make it easier to wake up. For me 11pm was perfect for rising at 5am. That gives me six hours of sleep. Funnily enough, I am less tired on six than I was on ten.
There is a good reason for this. Apparently getting up at the same time each day stabilises one’s circadian rhythms, setting your body’s own internal clock. This makes it easier for you to not only get up at the same time each day feeling refreshed but also drop off to sleep more easily each night. This means a more restorative sleep.
I have found this regularity to be so helpful, I set the alarm at the weekend as well. For the first time in my life, I am directing my sleep time rather than it dictating to me. And this feels good.
- Quiet Time, Alone
I have enjoyed the quiet which inevitably comes with getting up before everyone else. As an introvert, who feels energised by being alone, this is incredibly important. I begin each day by energising myself. I don’t exercise or listen to loud music, no, I am merely alone in the quiet afforded me by the early hour. By the time the littles rise at 7, I am a ready and enthusiastic participant in their day, rather than the grunting, slow-moving Claire I used to be.
Beginning the day a good two hours before anyone else has been a glorious, distraction free time for me to write. I am not interrupted, even once, by children who want to talk, want me to look at something or even by the back ground noise they make. It is me and my coffee, with a keyboard and lots of uninterrupted time to get the words out of my mind, through my fingers onto the keyboard. Pure bliss!
As an introvert, time alone isn’t something I want, it is something I need to keep myself healthy. I used to take this time at night, when everyone was asleep. The problem with this is that time alone energises an introvert, rather than having a relaxing effect. This meant I would be at my most energised and creative around about midnight each night (having had a couple of hours to myself between 10 and 12). This would have the knock on effect of preventing me sleeping. Now, I am most energised in the morning, which means my family gets the best of me, rather than the worst.
- More Time for Family
It is simple maths when you think about it. I am currently getting up three hours earlier than before. During the first two I work at the computer. I get more done than I would when working during the day (when I get interruptions) and this leaves me more time during the day, and especially in the evenings to spend time with my family. Somehow, life feels less of a juggling act than it did. I have more time, quantitatively and qualitatively.
This has also meant that in the evening I can afford to avoid the computer. This not only frees me up for the family, it also allows me time for some relaxation, and time to unwind from the stresses of the day. It allows me time to put the day into perspective. This is particularly important for a home schooling mum, whose days can be quite intense.
Getting up one hour earlier each day gives me back 15 days each year. Getting up three hours earlier (which I am currently doing) gives me back 45 days – a whole one and a half months! The gift of time. Do you know how important this is?
- Starting the Day Ahead of the Game
You only need to read this post to understand what I mean by this. Getting up late, meant I began the day behind before I had even got started. Now more often than not, I am up, coffee-ed, have blogged and done my chores all before anyone else has even opened their eyes.
Another, unforeseeable plus, has been that I am able to make sure my early rising 7-year-old remains in bed regardless of what time she wakens. This has the knock on effect of her not waking any of her sisters. This means her younger sister (who has much higher sleep needs than her) stays asleep longer and is much happier during the day as a result.
- Learning Self Control
There are other benefits also, which I’m sure I will share at some point, but I can’t finish this post without at least mentioning why I believe God asked me to train myself to get up early in the first place.
Rising early is a multifaceted choice, and for me requires military control over factors which may not naturally seem to have anything to do with getting out of bed at 5am each morning. For example, in order to rise early I must ensure I get enough sleep the night before. This means choosing not to be on the computer (energises my mind too much); choosing to go for a long walk each evening (ensures I am both physically tired, and gives me my quiet time with God); choosing to eat enough calories during the day so I do not eat so much at night that I am kept awake whilst it digests….
You see, the self-control I am learning by forcing myself to get out of bed each morning is far-reaching and will be a skill I can apply to areas in my life where there is maybe a struggle with self-control, such as food. It is developing the self-control muscle I need to be able to control food and not have it control me. And I believe that is why God, in His infinite wisdom, chose getting up early to train me to eventually control what I put in my mouth.
To be clear, I don’t think it is more holy to get up early. Yes, the well-known Mrs P got up ‘whilst it was still night’ (Proverbs 31:15) but she also works into the night ensuring ‘her lamp does not go out over night’ (Proverbs 31:18). She was both night owl and morning person, and as inspiring and wonderful as this sounds even King Lemuel says that this is a woman who is hard, if not impossible to find (Proverbs 31:10).
Proverbs 31 is one of three life verses that God gave me early on in my Christian journey, and anyone who knows me knows I fail at being this woman on a daily basis. But I find it exciting to try, one thing at a time, listening carefully to where God wants me to improve on next. Right now, this is getting up early.
Other Benefits to the Homeschool Mum
Other benefits to rising early may include:
- Spending time with God
- Food preparation for the day ahead
- More time to plan the day ahead
- Time to exercise
- Less stress/ less likely to be late
- Enjoy watching the sun rise and the world wake up
- Eliminating the rush in the morning
- More time to pleasure read
I have been rising early (5am) since mid December and have found it to be a surprising blessing in many ways. I know, though, that there are bigger things going on here, and I am very excited about this first step to becoming a woman of God who possesses self-control in abundance. And maybe, just maybe, I will be able to apply this self-control to my real nemesis – food.
How about you? How is God training you right now? What are your thoughts on rising early? Or if you are a night owl, how have you found this blesses you?