In four short years I have gone from early riser to night owl. Or maybe I am just merely settling back into my true self. Whatever the case, my husband doesn’t seem to understand it. To him it’s as simple as “go to bed earlier, and you’ll get up earlier”. Because Jim fades between 8 and 9:30pm, I believe he misses the fact that I am no longer on the same time table as he.
At work in 2004, we had a group exercise having to do with understanding the routines as well as likes and dislikes of the people who had cognitive disabilities and were with whom we worked. We saw examples on people that listed what made their mornings soar as opposed to tanking. Now the staff had to write out their own morning routines.
Mine had the usual grooming habits listed like everyone else. However, I stated that my favored wake up time was 5:00 to 5:30 am. I had to have at least an hour to sit with The Oregonian newspaper along with a cup or two of coffee or I would feel rushed and cheated.
But somewhere along the line, I started wanting to stay up later to watch tv, write or read. I didn’t like being tired at 8pm. For too many years I had been knocked out way before 10. Maybe it was perimenopause which initiated the day and night change even though I had been perimenopausal for almost ten years.
I remember when I was a liitle girl around the age of five and being sent to bed at said time of 8pm sleepy or not. I rarely was sleepy. Instead I would imagine all kinds of things like having an underground tunnel to my friend’s home up the block. If I could do that, I would be able to play with all her fantastic toys, since mine were mostly old hand-me-downs or thrift store finds. Dare I get up and venture the courage to play quietly, my mother, a strict disciplinarian, would have spanked me. Still, knowing this potential consequence, I would sometimes test the waters by laughing along with my mother and sisters as they watched The Lucy Show. I never laughed for very long. Mom didn’t know I would lie awake for hours, restless at the early unfair confinement.
As a teenager, I stayed up quite late continuiing into my college years when I was up until 3 or 4am. I could think more clearly and embraced the quiet hours of the night. And I didn’t sleep super late. If it went past 9:00am, that was pushing it. My sweet, elderly father had only to open my door a crack and whisper my name and the time, and I was awake in a flash.
So maybe after my children have grown, it is only natural that my old and familiar pattern of loving to stay up late has come to be my new routine now. I usually turn off the cell phone and the tv by 11:00pm, and retreat to read, journal or do puzzles. I feel as if I could stay up all night, but I force myself to go to sleep by 1:30am at the latest. And I set my alarm for 7:15 in the morning because I don’t enjoy sleeping in too long.
So who knew my a.m. routine would change so drastically? I would never have believed it back in 2004. It was such an alien concept, that on weekends I would still try to wake up around the same early time of 5 to 6am.
Whatever the reasons for these changes, I am enjoying my routine switch. It shows that we aren’t always set in stone. And I hope through me, those who work with people who have cognitive disabilities recognize that we should never cast them in the same frozen mold. Because they too might love the night as I do.