I have a job now. I am a resident physician, no longer a medical student, which means that I am still learning but that I know enough now to start to take care of people with supervision.
This is apparently news to me. I still sound a little stunned when I introduce myself to patients as Dr. White. It's like every time I say it, the weight of the responsibilities burrows a little deeper into my mind.
I envision being a resident who wakes up early to read before clinic so that I am ready for particular patients and their specific concerns. I am all over this new job.
Just one problem. I hate getting out of bed in the morning. Also, I am terrible at it. The usual trajectory of my mornings is as follows:
- Wake up around 6:45am.
- Decide I am super comfortable and beds are awesome.
- Decide to wait for 20 more minutes before getting up.
- Close my eyes.
- Don't fall back asleep but lie in a cocoon of comfort as the sun drills through the window.
- Alarm goes off in 20 minutes.
- Open eyes.
- Consider meditating (I use the Calm app when possible, it's amazing)
- Close eyes,
- Wake up at 7:45 for a 9:00am start across town.
- Turn on my phone.
- Get into Facebook debate.
- Check emails while stumbling around finding clothes.
- Realize it is 8:10
- Speed through a shower, brush wet hair, dress.
- Choose between making coffee, printing off important article, food and meditation. There is time for only one.
- Get angry at myself for the self-imposed chaos.
- Put dog in basement for day.
- Run out door.
- Realize I have no gas.
- Stop for gas.
- Continue Facebook debate.
- Show up to clinic late.
- Feel guilt. Feel unprepared. Feel hungry.
- Pledge to do better.
- Stay up late watching or reading things on my phone.
No more, I say! I have always associated early rising with adulthood. It's so mature, prepared and regimented. Well, actually it's because melatonin (the hormone our brain makes to induce sleep) drops as you age. Older people can't sleep in, for the most part.
Older people, however, are not totally bombing their efforts at sleep by being on the phone immediately before bed. As a culture, we are sleeping less and less than ever before and we are sicker with chronic disease than ever before. This isn't just a productivity problem, it's a life problem. And I am right there in the middle, trying to figure it out so that I am not a mess at 9am.
Step one in the series on making better mornings is figuring out how we fall asleep in the first place. Fall asleep is the last thing you need to do before you wake up. If you can fall asleep better, it's likely that you're going to wake up better.
People who wake up early have shifted this whole process - their circadian rhythms - earlier. They sleep well. They mimic 'animal time', or the activity of non-nocturnal species that don't wear watches, and rise with the sun and wind down with the dark. They are creatures of routine. With this series, I will show that these people are super productive. They are also happier. Probably because they don't go to work hungry and under-caffeinated.