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How I became an early-riser

In everything I’ve read about sleep — and trust me, I’ve read a lot on the subject — I’ve not seen anything on the method I have recently chanced upon. So let me share it.

I don’t remember clearly how my sleep cycle and schedule turned upside-down, but I suspect it was because of novels and movies. I had a mania for both and invariably read and watched simultaneously till three in the morning.

I was desperate to know whether Baldev Singh will leave Simran’s hand and allow her to get on the train with Raj; and at the same time it was impossible for me to not to know why somebody would run a red-headed league, hire the red-headed Mr. Wilson, then mysteriously abandon him.

After college I did freelance writing for nearly two years, which made things even worse. Now I was sleeping at 5 a.m. and getting up at 1 p.m. But I wasn’t too concerned. After all, Neil Gaiman said, “As far as I’m concerned, the entire reason for becoming a writer is not having to get up in the morning.”

Then I got a full-time job as content writer and suddenly had to get up at 8.30 a.m. I thought my sleeping patterns would turn natural now, but I was only partly correct. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t sleep before three or four in the morning. During weekends I slept through from 4 a.m. to 4 p.m.

After 14 months, I had to revert to freelancing, and again could sleep only at 5 a.m. But by now I was taking the issue seriously. I had done some more research online which suggested night shifts could cause obesity, even cancer.

Some self-development blogs suggested one can become an early riser if one practises the following ritual.

Decrease your waking time by small chunks. So if you normally sleep at 3 a.m. and get up at 11 a.m., try waking at 10.30. a.m. Do this for a few days and you’ll find you’re be able to sleep at 2.30 a.m. Then wake up at 10 and you’ll start sleeping at one. Keep at it and soon you’ll become an early-riser.

Now, I need at least eight hours of sleep. If I reduce the amount by even half-an-hour I get headaches for the entire day. Even then I persisted for a few days, but then gave up. The method didn’t work for me.

Then an idea struck.

What if I reversed the ritual? What if I forced myself to stay awake till 5.30 a.m. and then got up at 1.30 p.m. and shifted it by half an hour? If I continued this way, one day I’ll manage to sleep at night. This way I won’t have to compromise on my eight hours’ sleep.

I decided to check out this theory.

After the first few days I managed to sleep at 11 a.m. and wake up at 7 p.m. Those days where I live the sun used to set at 5.30 so I was getting an hour and half of night’s sleep. Not bad, I thought.

Three or four days later I was sleeping at 2 p.m. I found it was easy for me to take jumps and not necessarily stick to the half-an-hour shifting schedule. I pushed myself and slept only when I couldn’t stay awake any more.

Soon I was sleeping at 6 p.m.

Within about 10 days of getting started, I was sleeping at 10 in the night and waking up at six in the morning—just like normal people.

Although after a few weeks my body tried to revert to the old sleeping pattern, I again applied the above method to force myself back successfully.

As I said earlier I wrote this because it’s an uncommon method. But don’t take this advice as one set in stone. Our bodies, structures, and needs are all different. So if you’re an insomniac and my method, or any other, doesn’t work for you; consider consulting a doctor.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2020 2:50:16 AM |

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