Welcome to 2019!

Where did 2019 come from and how did it get here so quickly?! Let alone that we are already nearly 2 weeks in!

2019 looks to be a busy year for me already. Alongside the usual work, I have pencilled in a degree to start working towards and the excitement of a jambouree with the Cubs in May. I’m sure we’ll also try and get a holiday in there somewhere.

Other plans need to involve being a bit more grateful, and a lot better at blogging (argh, like every year!). I’ve set up a blog devoted to my Psychology degree, so anything to do with that will be over there. Mostly though, I want to be able to remember all the cool things that I do manage to do in the course of the year, because it’s so easy to forget the little stuff.

As a house, we’re also trying to get a bit healthier. A few more vegetables and a little less time sat on our bums would be helpful. Although looking ahead I’m not sure if there’ll be a lot of time for bum-sitting!

I haven’t set any ‘new years resolutions’ for the year, mainly because I don’t like them. It usually just means setting yourself up for failure by heaping a load of pressure on in the month of January. BUT, I have achieved my only resolution… go to the dentist! There are a few things I would like to work on though. Definitely being more grateful for the little things, and for that I want to get myself one of these…

jar

I am already 12 days behind, under the pretense that I don’t have a jar! So that’s one thing to get underway!

Also a photo a day type challenge (by the way, have you seen my ‘photo a month’ challenge from last year) and also completing a journal entry a day, which would probably be a little too ambitious for this blog…and far too boring.

Anyway, thanks for stopping by for this not-very-well-thought-out blog post for the new year, and I hope to have more to stop by and share with you soon!

Advertisements

A photo a month

In 2018 I decided to have a go at something I’d seen a few other people do…a photo of the same scene once a month, to notice the change in seasons. I chose a little wooded area near my house, and this is was the final result. Why don’t you give it a go this year?

January – June

 

July – December

I have news…

Drum roll please….

Embed from Getty Images

I have some news to share with you all and thought a blog post would be one of the best ways to share it and be able to expand on it. Sooo… I’ve enrolled in a part-time degree next year with the Open University. *shocked face*

I know, I know. I’m the one who didn’t go to university, who went straight into the world of work and have never looked back. And yes, that’s still all true.

The only change is I really miss learning, and writing and applying myself. I have always leant on the side of writing vs numbers and I do miss using my brain to create something. Basically, my brain needs a stretch after 10 years in the same environment and I want to make sure I’m still capable of learning something new.

I’m going to be doing this alongside my current job and all the other stuff I fit into my week, so there’s no real change to my life – although perhaps a little less television time! If successful then it will take me 6 years to complete the degree (a terrifying thought!). Of course I am apprehensive about the actual studying part – if I’m capable, motivated enough and primarily if I have the time. But I think something new is exactly what I need right now in my life.

‘But Chloe…’ I hear you cry. ‘What are you studying?’

I’d really love to hear what people think I’ll be studying because I think that would be really interesting. However, *second drum roll* (you better be doing these drum rolls on your table…) I have applied to study Psychology. I am really interested in how the mind works, what makes each of us who we are and how experiences can affect us. Plus I remember my absolute love of the Sports Psychology module in my PE A-level (although sadly can now remember very little from it all these years later, but I’ve got a feeling that some of it might all come back to me over time!).

So there we go. That’s my news. If you specifically want to keep up with my studying and the ins and outs of how the Open University works, I’ve set up a sister blog specifically for that purpose which you can visit by clicking here – which I’m hoping to update with my experiences over the next few years. I am right at the start of the registering process right now, so I genuinely plan to use the blog to document the entire experience from start to finish.

Thanks for stopping by!

20 days of early mornings – an update

19 days ago, I challenged myself to do 30 days of early mornings. Primarily to see if someone like me, who has always struggled with early mornings, could possibly become ‘an early morning person’. So, how are those early mornings going?

Well, they are still going! It’s been really interesting to see what I can do and challenge myself to when I really want to.

Embed from Getty Images

Here are some pros:

I achieve a lot more in the mornings before the day has really begun.

It was a given really, wasn’t it? If you make the decision to get up earlier because you want to achieve more and be more productive then you’d hope that you would use the time wisely. And on the whole, I have. Even if it’s just a better breakfast routine (like making sure I actually have it has been an excellent start).

I feel wide awake by 6am.

Instead of dragging myself out of bed later and having to rush through my morning, ending up still feeling in a zombie like-state, I actually feel awake and ready to take on the day just like everybody else.

All my blog posts have been written before 8am.

If you’ve followed my blog for a while then you’ll know that I post very sparodically, usually in bursts and the leave it for 6 months and then go again. I wanted to blog some of this experience, and although there hasn’t been a great deal to say on a daily basis, I have deliberately used those additional hours to make sure I’m getting the blogs done and not put off for another day.

Going to bed and sleeping is too easy.

Although I am an excellent sleeper, I do sometimes find it difficult to get to sleep – lying in bed and tossing and turning. The obvious benefit to being up for a full day is that I’m very read to climb into bed at the end of it. Infact my bedtime has varied quite a lot and it’s pretty much been ‘when I’m tired’ – which sometimes has meant snuggling down at 8pm.

Embed from Getty Images

And the cons:

I’ve spent most of the last 19 days sleep deprived.

It’s rarely possible for me to set my own bedtime, or to go to bed at 8pm to get a good amount of sleep. I have a life and a job that dictates that things happen in the evenings. The hardest part of this challenge and the reason I’m calling it a day after 20 days is that I didn’t actually sign up for 30 days of sleep deprivation! I am an 8 hour sleeper. I function best on anything that is between 7 and 8 hours. The longer this challenge goes on the more tired I become. And I’m noticing myself that my concentration and memory later on in the day is absolutely shot to pieces. This one is a huge con and unfortunately is the leading reason I don’t want to continue the 30 day challenges.

Afternoons are only good for a nap

Continuously getting up at 5.30am means that by 3pm I’m ready to call it a day. However, because I have a job where sometimes my working day doesn’t actually begin until 2pm I feel I’d have benefitted more by sleeping in and being a more fully functional human being later on in the day. This was always going to be a problem, because I have differing shift patterns.

I’m always hungry

I may have managed to now nail breakfast. But being up extra hours in the day means that I am always hungry! I’m beginning to feel like Pippin in this scene from Lord of the Rings:

 

With that in mind, I’m calling it a day on day 20. 20 days isn’t so bad. I had 3 oversleeps in that time because I could feel my body screaming out for them. Here are some stats for you, minus the lie in days…

My earliest bedtime was: 20:22pm

My earliest get-up was: 4.25am

The most sleep I got in one nights was: 8hrs 1min

The least sleep I got in one night was: 5hrs 12min

Average sleep over the last 19 days (discounting the 3 lie ins): 6hrs 35mins per night.

So, with all that in mind – do I think it’s possible to ‘become’ an early morning person? Hmm, well. I think it might be. There’s obviously a lot of factors to consider – and for me they mainly involve how I fit in my 8 hours of sleep and get an early morning! If you have varying bedtimes I think it’s a struggle, especially if you are someone who needs some solid sleep to function. However, I have enjoyed the challenge and it’s good to see that if I did feel I needed to ‘just get stuff done’ I could make better use of my time. I am defintiely more productive in the morning and less likely to procrastinate!

Let me know if you try a similar challenge and how you get on!

“The amount of sleep required by the average person is five minutes more.” – Wilson Mizener

Remember that mad moment where I committed to the internet to become a morning person? WHAT WAS I THINKING…?!

Today is day 7, and I’m learning a great deal about early mornings so far…

Firstly, it’s not the early morning – it’s all about the amount of sleep you can get BEFORE the early morning. Today was easily the most difficult day to get up and I know that this is because I was late to bed (11pm). Whereas my earlier bedtime of 9pm has made 5am seem much more doable. Unfortunately, I’m now on some evening shifts at work and I have NO idea how I’m going to feel by the time I get to Saturday morning!

Embed from Getty Images

Secondly, getting up early is a decision I have to make far earlier than on the morning when the alarm goes off. Although I’ve made this awful commitment in my mind for the next 30 days (23 now and counting!), I start thinking about my early morning, probably at about 4pm the previous day. I start thinking about when I’m eating so that I don’t go to bed on a full stomach. I’ve started paying more attention to my screen-time and what I’m doing directly before going to sleep. I’ve started going to bed earlier and reading to give myself time to wind down. I’m not a great sleeper. I mean, I’m great once I’m asleep, but getting to sleep does take me a while, so I’ve been really looking into how I can reduce that time. I’ve even bought some chamomile tea (yet to sample!). When I climb into bed, the get up time needs to be non-negotiable in my mind.

Thirdly, my morning needs purpose. The mornings that have worked well and I’ve really got a good start on the day is because I’ve given myself a purpose. Doing some extra work, or reading or anything really. The biggest fail and when I feel most drained is mornings like today. Where I did drag myself out of bed, but then just scrolled social media on the sofa and watched TV. This means it’s now just gone 10am and I feel like I could go straight back to bed – even though I’ve got another 13hours to endure!

I think I might take up afternoon naps! Which of course are only any good if I’m NOT at work.

The Alarm Clock

clock

You hardly need me to tell you that alarm clocks are awful things designed only to pull us kicking and screaming from our deep comfortable slumber and back in to the day. But there seems to be a variety of ways that people respond to them, I’ll let you guess which category I fall into!

  1. Hit the alarm and get out of bed.
  2. Hit the snooze and stay in bed. Hit snooze again. And again. And again. Oh, and 5 more minutes please… I’ll get up at quarter past. I’ll get up at half-past.

Hmm, yes, that’s right – I’m number 2. Snooze is my friend (and probably my greatest enemy!) and I carefully bargain with my alarm clock for extra minutes under the duvet.

The truth is, our body’s aren’t designed for alarm clocks. As many people know, our sleep goes through stages, and being rudely interrupted in the middle of some of those stages does us no good whatsoever. In fact, that might be why you can sometimes wake up so tired, even after a good amount of sleep – you’ve been interrupted in the wrong stage of sleep and your body is not happy!

Realistically, however, how would we cope without an alarm clock? As that’s clearly what our body wants – to wake up in its own good time. Unfortunately, unless you’re lucky enough to have a really flexible lifestyle, you sort of need to be on the timetable of the rest of the world to get stuff done, especially if you have a job or other responsibilities.

There are a couple of alternatives out there though…

Some smart watches provide a ‘smart alarm’ function. Essentially, the smart watch is tracking your sleep and it will wake you based on the sleep cycle it believes you’re in, closest to the time you give it to wake up. So, if you say you want a 6am wake up, it’ll track your sleep closely in the time before and after and calculate the best time to wake you up. When I tried this my watch was either inaccurately recording my sleep pattern or being woken by a buzzing wrist just wasn’t for me – it made no impact whatsoever!

You could also try getting up with the sun light. Not such a winner in winter (especially if you’re going to bed at sundown too!), but there are alarm clocks out there that simulate a sunrise by gradually lighting up. I haven’t given this a go, but I think they sound brilliant and a much more relaxing way to start the morning. I wouldn’t like my chances of getting up based on how light the room is though!

Radio alarm clocks, set quietly, are also said to be better for your all round sleep health. The theory being that quiet music should wake you if you are in the ‘light’ stage of sleep, if it doesn’t wake you – then you’re not in the correct stage of sleep!

So, what’s your alarm clock of choice? And how effective do you think it is? Are you a snoozer? Or can you just jump out of bed?

Is it possible to become a morning person? The challenge.

I’ve always been impressed by people around me that are ‘morning people’. Those that get up after one alarm, immediately after it goes off (not after 5 snoozes and 3 ‘just incase I sleep through’ alarms). But, is it actually possible to become a morning person? Or is it something in our fundamental make-up that determines if we are more or less likely to be able to get up early?

alarm

This question has bothered me a lot. My husband is a morning person, he opts to get up earlier rather than later and he seems to have no difficulty in doing so. However, I go to bed with the best will in the world to get up early but by the time morning comes around I’ve dreamed my motivation away.

This is not to say I can’t get up *at all*. My job dictates that I need to be up very early some mornings, and on the whole, that’s not a problem. But I think if you could see me getting up at 5am you’d notice it doesn’t come naturally to me. On average I set 7 alarms on my phone (6 of them from 4:45am until  5.15am and one more at 5.30am – just incase!)

Embed from Getty Images

So, what are the benefits of being a morning person? The main one, and I think the biggest reason people get up early, is that it is a good time to ‘get stuff done’. Productivity. Whether that’s a morning run (urgh, I can’t imagine anything less appealing!) or exercise, getting work done, taking some ‘you’ time alone before the world gets up, or just simply cracking on with the day. And it doesn’t seem to be a myth – some of the worlds most influential or successful business people are morning risers. And in all honesty, I can see why. When I’m up early I achieve so much more than when I get up and stay up late.

So, here’s the challange – 30 days of early mornings, getting up before 5.30am each day for one month. Is being a morning person simply a habit? Or is there more to it? And if I’m successful will I be ‘a morning person’, or is it simply not possible to force yourself to become one?