I sometimes like to joke that I haven't woken up before 7am since 2004. I probably have. I'm sure there were some early mornings in college where I woke up at 5am or 6am to finish homework for an 8am class. Or to study for finals. Or woke up early to catch a flight or to drive someone to the airport. Sure I can't remember any of those days at the moment, but they probably happened. But I haven't consistently set my alarm for pre-7am hours in many, many years.
Probably since high school. Sometimes I look back at high school and wonder how I maintained my sleep schedule. High school starts so early. Like 7:45am. Even typing that just now I thought to myself, no, I'm just being dramatic--it must be after 8am. So I double-checked my high school's website, and first period really starts at 7:45am. And for a couple of years I took 0-period seminary, so I was at school by 6:30am. And of course I stayed up past midnight most nights having drama-filled AIM conversations. (Obviously.) How did I survive?
As complainy and lazy as I'm sounding, I've never been one to sleep in. When I was really young, I can remember being the first person awake on Sunday mornings. I would get a bowl of frosted flakes and watch The Bozo Show until other people got up. I'm not sleep crazy. I have never slept the day away, and I could probably count on one hand the number of times I have slept past 10am. During my masters program, I set my alarm for 9am (on the off-chance that I didn't wake up on my own before then), but I would usually wake up without it around 8. I'm not a napper. I don't crave sleep.
But the biggest shock to getting a full-time job has been waking up early. I leave for work by 7:30am, which means I have been waking up between 6am and 6:30am every day. The part of me that has always wanted to be an early-morning-gets-a-bunch-of-things-done-before-the-rest-of-the-world-wakes-up kind of person loves this. I feel like an adult with my stuff together. The other 98% of me hates this. It's just a little too early for me. And I do mean a little. 7:30am would be fine. 8am would be fantastic. But there's something about the pre-7am hours that terrify me. I never feel fully rested. And I don't trust myself enough in the pre-7am hours to fully grasp the importance of waking up. I'm always on the brink of completely ignoring my alarm and fading back into a wonderful heavy sleep without a care in the world. Pre-7am, nothing feels more important than resting. Not beating traffic. Not being responsible. Not keeping my job. Nothing.
Once I get out of bed and shower, the heavy feeling in my eyes starts to dissipate. I slowly slip into my professional and responsible mode. But the 10 minutes right after my alarm goes off, when I'm lying in bed trying to will my legs to swing over the side of the bed and fighting to keep my eyelids open, are the most distressing and disorienting minutes of my day.