There’s something strange about not being able to sleep. If it’s that you can’t get to sleep and you mess up the beginning of your sleep cycle, there’s a sense of frustration and annoyance and the knowledge that you are missing sleep almost becomes stressful. But if you miss sleep from the other end of your cycle due to waking up early, then you get to experience those nascent, early hours of the day along with the birds and the morning sun and everything feels magical. The two states are almost complete opposites: at one end missing sleep is a curse, and at the other end missing sleep is being let into a secret.
I nearly always wake up around 5am if I’ve been drinking alcohol: fully alert, bright-eyed and feeling miraculously sober. Over the years, this has accounted for a lot of early mornings.
Here’s some of the things I like to do:
Read the news. When’s the last time you just sat and read multiple news outlets reports? Rather than just picking through the headlines or clicking on a few links, spend the extra time reading through the news. Then do it again on a different channel and be critical about what got left out or reported in a different way.
Catch up on blogs. Pick a new blog or an old favourite and dive through an entire category of their archives.
Scroll through Facebook and Twitter and click every link that takes your time, or browse a hashtag on Instagram. These are things I never ever have time to do, and the magical thing about waking up early is your off the clock. My timetable for each day begins around 7:30, so that is almost two hours to do whatever I please, guilt free. You can even browse news archives with that time!
Listen for birdsong and try to identify the different voices. All my sorrow for you if you do not live somewhere with birds. And all my sorrow that I am unable to identify more birds by song alone.
Pick up the nearest book and read it. It doesn’t need to be the book you’re currently reading, or even your book. When I was 16 I woke up around 5:30am in a family friends hotel room in Turkey, where I spent four hours reading the Dad’s Andy McNab, never to finish the story.
Cuddle the person next to you. It doesn’t have to be a lover; everyone likes cuddles in bed and my housemates and I used to sneak in to snuggle each other if we woke up too early. But if it IS a lover then take time to unashamedly examine their face, and whisper all your grandest compliments to them.
Try to recall one thing from every year of your life, chronologically. Surprisingly hard, but one of my favourite games.
Write a blog post. Yep, it’s 6:03 now and counting. You don’t have to publish it but write something and stash it in your half finished posts for later. Those 238 blog posts (in my case 😞) aren’t going to start and abandon themselves! (Seriously :/)
What do you do when you can’t sleep?