I never understood the phrase “rise and shine.”
How could anyone possibly shine just after rising?
Maybe it’s because I’ve never been a morning person, and I have very little energy when I first wake up.
I’ve always hated being woken up and disliked getting out of bed early. I wish it weren’t the case, but since I was a kid I’ve always been pretty moody in the morning.
I’ve gotten a little bit better as I’ve gotten older, but I’m ashamed to admit that until recently, even I didn’t want to be around me in the early hours of the day.
Luckily that all started to change in late May.
I suddenly started waking up earlier, more easily, and in a much better mood. I stopped hitting the snooze button; started having less trouble opening my eyes; and began jumping out of bed with a little spring in my step. It was weird.
But I guess it wasn’t all that surprising that my sleep habits seemed to be off.
We had just moved into a new home, which meant I was sleeping and waking up in an unfamiliar place. The mattress was new, so I wondered if perhaps that was making some sort of difference. We had also just bought a house, so I suspected the excitement and stress were getting to me.
And maybe all those things did play a small part, but my husband had his own theory — and I think it was spot on.
He said it was the natural light.
Because I, you know, hate mornings, I’ve always had blackout shades or kept my bedroom blinds closed so I wouldn’t be woken up by the light.
But I’ve since realised that I wasn’t doing myself any favours. I was actually just making waking up more difficult for myself.
“Taking in a hefty dose of sunshine first thing in the morning can help you wake up ‘because your body’s internal clock is sensitive to light and darkness,’ says Natalie Dautovich, the National Sleep Foundation’s environmental scholar. She recommends opening the curtains or eating breakfast on a sunny porch.”
The first few months in our new house, we didn’t have blinds. We had $3, non-light filtering white paper “privacy” shades on our three bedroom windows to hold us over until we could get something more permanent.
And as it turns out, they were all I needed to start waking up earlier.
After three months with the paper privacy shades, we recently ordered our “real” bedroom blinds, but made a pact: We will leave them at least halfway open when we go to sleep each night, so we wake up to a naturally lit room.
I’m not sure what will happen when winter rolls around and it’s less bright early in the morning — but hopefully by then my new habits will be fully formed and it won’t be a problem.
In the meantime, I think I’m finally starting to get that “rise and shine” thing.