Early to Bed, Early to Rise: On Taking Time for Yourself

For the last few weeks I have been getting up at 5:30 AM. It’s still completely dark outside, the house is quiet, and a sense of peace fills every room.

I stumble into the kitchen, drink a big glass of water while my Keurig machine boots up, and give my dogs a few pets of acknowledgment before letting them outside. As my coffee pours, I let them back in and give them their dental chew for the day (this will keep their demands for breakfast at bay for at least while). With glasses and big, comfy sweater on, I curl up with my devotional, journal, and a good book.

While my coffee intake has tripled due to this change in my schedule, and I find myself getting sleepy around 9 p.m. (sometimes earlier), the change in my mood and productivity have been astounding. Not only do I complete a good chunk of my to-do list before lunch, but I also have more love, patience, and kindness to give to my family, friends, and students. I attribute this enhanced capacity for warmth to the time I take for myself before I engage with anyone else, and if it means getting up before dawn, so be it.

I wonder why a shift like this, from early to bed, early to rise, can have such a remarkable effect on the day. Are we more apt to do nourishing things, like read and pray, in the morning? If we stay up late, do we find ourselves vegging out in front of the tv rather than connecting with ourselves (our goals, values, and blessings) and God? If so, why are we so drawn toward a life that is spent staying up late and waking up in a rush? What routine works best for you and your family?

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