Blogging. The Teen Mom season finale. Jezebel. Blogging. Work. E-mail. Laundry. Blogging. Kids that reappear like groundhogs every 5 minutes after bedtime until I threaten to play whack-a-mole with the next tiny head that pokes out that door. Writing. And especially those weird spiders in Pakistan that have engulfed entire trees in their apocalyptic webs that I can’t even think about without doing a full body shiver. (Seriously, click that link at your own risk. Supposedly the spiders are good ’cause they eat mosquitoes and lessen malaria but holy crap Nature, could you not have found a less creepy thing attracted to blood suckers? Hugh Hefner not available?)

My point: there are lots of things that keep me up at night. But only one thing wakes me up in the morning. Me.

One of my most memorable Christmas gifts as a child was an alarm clock. I know, I was a weird kid. Mom, Dad, I’m sorry. It wasn’t just any alarm clock though it was the super deluxe alarm clock with dual alarms, a battery backup and even those slidey thingies to adjust the bass and balance and Josh-Groban tenor and whatever other random music words I can think of. My parents specifically told me, “We got you the best alarm clock at the store, honey! We know how much you love your alarm and this one should last you ’till college!”

And it did. That baby not only got me through 4 neurotic years of high school – I had to get up crazy early so I’d have enough time to meticulously apply all my heavy black eyeliner just in case Robert Smith happened by my cafeteria at lunchtime – but it lasted through college, graduate school and the first five or so years of marriage. I loved that thing. The kids broke it. Of course they did. They hang from chandeliers until they pull them right out of the ceiling and then chase each other with steak knives – how was my alarm clock supposed to make it through that gauntlet?

But the kids broke me of something else: my alarm clock dependence. When you’re getting up at 2 a.m., 4 a.m., 4:30 a.m., 4:44 a.m., and 5:30 a.m. with a cranky baby who’s to say when the day really starts? So I forgot about the alarm clock and instead changed to waking up whenever I woke up. I know this sounds very decadent but what I discovered is that I sleep better and feel better upon waking if I allow myself to wake up naturally. (I think the research supports me on this but strangely no Google search string I typed could locate it for me…) And it turns out that I wake myself up pretty consistently about 7.5 hours after I go to bed. (Assuming no one barfs in my bed in the middle of the night which happens more than you might think. Kids do not like to vomit alone. They will hold it in all the way up three flights of stairs, wait until they’ve shaken me awake and then upchuck all over themselves, me, my bed and the floor. And yet they say they can’t make it to the toilet in time.)

Most of us know that our bodies follow natural circadian rhythms that follow the daylight and that when we do sleep it follows a cyclical pattern between stages 1-4 and REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. What a lot of us don’t consciously realize though are the consequences of disrupting our natural rhythms. That brain fog, grouchiness and mid-morning slump may make you think you aren’t a morning person but they may just be the result of being jerked out of a very deep sleep. Or it could be because your favorite morning radio show will not stop plugging a certain diet pill every 10 minutes despite the fact that their only support for its effectiveness are random people who call in and cry a lot and claim to have lost 500 pounds on it. ANYHOW.

Of course there are times when I absolutely must be awake at a very certain time in which situation I do set my alarm clock (and it’s strategically placed across the room from my bed) but if I go to bed on time I usually wake up on my own 10-30 minutes before my alarm. These days I still get up early but it feels like it’s on my terms. And also, allowing yourself to wake naturally is supposed to help with lucid dreaming which I’ve never been able to do but sounds really freaky cool.

How do you wake up in the morning? Are you a morning lark or a night owl by nature? Any of you able to lucid dream (dream lucidly?)? What are your fave PJs?

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