I was never a morning person. Just ask my parents. As a child, I never wanted to get up early, and I always wanted to stay up late. I just couldn’t see the appeal of vacating my warm bed – especially in the middle of a Wisconsin winter when we were lucky if it was above freezing. This attitude continued through high school and college.
When I got my first job and moved to Maryland, my priorities changed. I had to commute for the first time in my life and was willing to do anything I could to avoid the worst of the traffic. Also, though I was living with Sean, I saw him less since we both worked full time, so the hours in the evening together became all the more precious. It became clear to me what I must do: start my day earlier.
Over the years I trained myself in the art of waking up early. I set my alarm for 6:15 am and dragged myself out of bed until it became a habit. This became crucial in Dushanbe. Since we were both working long hours, it became the only time of day I could find to work out – something absolutely essential for my mental sanity. I managed to carry over that behavior when we moved to Maryland, even working from home three days per week. It also allowed me to end my work day earlier and have more time for fun things like playing with the animals or cooking dinner. I was proud of myself for becoming a morning person. I figured it would stick for life.
Oh, how wrong I was.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase “Island Time.” How everything starts at sunrise, ends at sunset, and moves at a blissfully slow pace? Where you just feel at ease and calm? Yeah. It’s lovely.
Now let me introduce you to the concept of “Georgian Time.” Everything here starts late. The official working hours for many businesses are 10:00 am-6:00 pm. Coffee shops and cafes don’t open until 10:00 am at the earliest, so the idea of grabbing a coffee before work is virtually nonexistent. When Dunkin Doughnuts (yes we have those here) came to town and started work at 8:00 am it was unheard of and almost scandalous.
We’ve gone out to dinner at 6:00 pm and been the only ones in the restaurant. By the time we finish eating two hours later the regular crowd rolls in. We go out walking in the early evening, and it’s completely empty, but at 10:00 pm the streets are packed with people. It’s bizarre.
It also doesn’t help that I’m teleworking this tour, and voluntarily shifted my hours to overlap with Maryland. If I worked my ideal normal day, 8:00 am-4:00pm, I would be signing off as they sign on. Not exactly conducive to any sort of collaboration, so I work from 12:00 pm-8:00pm each day. This way I can overlap with my coworkers and feel more connected to the office as a whole.
The issue here is the combination of Georgian Time and my abnormal work hours has completely dismantled the careful circadian rhythm I have trained my body to operate on. I have no incentive to get up early aside from five hungry animals circling the bed like sharks waiting for me to feed them. Then, by the time I sign off work, we only have a few hours to relax and unwind before bed, but bedtime itself has been messed up as well. We’ve been staying up later and later watching one more episode of Santa Clarita Diet or Big Mouth or Pokemon Indigo League (yes we are rewatching it, and WHAT ON EARTH IS THIS SHOW?! WHY DID I FIND THIS ENJOYABLE AS A CHILD?! IT’S THE STUPIDEST THING I’VE EVER SEEN!).
The result of all this is that I simply don’t feel good. It’s thrown off my normal eating schedule completely so I often accidentally skip meals or snacks. I’m tired, hungry all the time, and restless even when I do manage to sleep. I thought after a few months my body would find a way to right my erratic sleep schedule, but now after nine months of chaos, it doesn’t seem to want to fix itself on its own.
Perhaps it’s time to suck it up, get up when my alarm goes off, leave a few blackout curtains open so my body can recognize the sunrise, and not forsake years of training to be a morning person. Wish me luck.