#3 I'm A Night Owl, Honey

I’m a toddler, finally sleeping in a big-girl bed, long tucked in for the night. My parents are working late at the bar, leaving my 4 older sisters in charge. As they get ready for bed themselves, some still doing homework, they see a yellow blur streaking down the hall. Then, footie pajama-covered footsteps thumping down the stairs. Moments later, the familiar strains of tv theme music drift upward. One of the girls confronts me, hand on hip, saying “What do you think you’re doing?”

My reply, of course: “Watching Carson.”

Once I can read, all bets are off. I’m awake well into the wee hours devouring Nancy Drew mysteries or whatever contraband book I’ve stolen from one of the older girls. Mornings are a battle for me, and for mom. Sometimes I put on my school uniform while I’m still under the covers, just to steal a few more moments of sleep.

I get my first alarm clock. It’s one of those white plastic squares with AM/FM radio and those brightly colored loose wires that hang out of the back (what are they for anyway?).

Photo Credit: Ace Finds Vintage

I’m responsible for getting myself up and out to school now, so I set it to Hot Hits 98, the coolest top 40 station in Philly, so I can wake up to "Barsky in the Morning "and megahits like 99 Red Balloons and Valley Girl.

I rarely hear the music, though. This wonder cube has a large rectangular button on the top marked “SNOOZE” that, when pressed, gives me an additional 9 minutes of sleep. When the alarm goes off, I sit up fast, slap the button and am back to ZZZZtown faster than you can say “Gag me with a spoon."

Decades later, I’m still hitting snooze. I usually set my iPhone alarm for at least an hour before I need to get out of bed. For those keeping track, that’s 6-7 snoozes every day. It’s immature and a real waste of time, but I figure it’s the least of my problems. Hey, I could be on meth!

A couple of months ago, I decided I’ve had enough. I'm going to kick the snooze habit for good.

I try the usual tricks - going to bed earlier, moving my phone across the room, visualizing myself waking up at a certain time. No dice. When I wake up an hour late, I realize that I can cross a room, hit snooze, and get right back in bed without even remembering doing it. WTF?

Hitting snooze is no longer a choice that I make. It’s a reflexive habit that I’ve carefully, if unwittingly, nurtured for almost 40 years. If I really want to break this habit, I’m going to have to get drastic.

I buy myself an old-fashioned, analog alarm clock on Amazon. When it arrives, I’m excited, but completely flummoxed because I can’t figure out how it works. I guess it’s so simple that any dummy can use it, so there are no instructions included in the box.

My friend, Barbara, comes to the rescue. She’s Swiss, so she can generally figure anything out. But also, this is exactly the kind of alarm she grew up using. Because she’s Swiss.

The first time we test the alarm, I nearly pee my pants. It’s so fucking loud, it makes me want to fight someone or smash a window.

Imagine the rotting souls of serial killers screaming in hell. This is worse. I live on top of a fire station and those sirens are Brahms next to this tiny box of rage.

I give myself 30 days to “banish the snooze button” from my life. I write this goal down every night before I go to bed and again every morning when I’m launched from under the duvet to stop. the. madness.

Day one - I’ve placed the clock just out of reach so I’ll need to actually get up to turn it off. But I’ve miscalculated how shocked I’ll be, so instead of quickly turning the alarm off, I knock the clock over, along with the books, journal, pens, and water bottle on my nightstand. The clanging of the bells and the clattering of my bedside bric-a-brac in the still-dark room throws me into a brief panic. My heart is racing and curses flow freely from my cotton mouth.

Elderly Dog barely stirs. But, I’m awake, that’s for sure.

After the first week, I start to anticipate the alarm, sometimes waking moments before it goes off. I think I'm giving myself Pre-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Within a few weeks, I start to really enjoy the extra time I have in the mornings. I’m meditating, doing morning pages, and writing. Some days, I go for a walk with my friend, Robin. Some days, I go to the gym.

I somehow manage to be occasionally (ok, always) late for work, but nobody’s perfect.

I read somewhere that it’s good to wake up at the same time every day, even on weekends. I still use “Old Yeller" for early AM wake ups during the week, but I’ve gone back to the softer, dulcet tones of my iPhone alarm on weekends.

Pro tip: delete that huge list of alarms you have in there and disable the snooze feature for any new alarms you set.

Now, I no longer snooze the mornings away. How about you? Leave me a comment below!

Cx

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