{the life} The Sudden Loss of My Morning Person Personality

by Rachel on February 6, 2012

I’ve experienced a lot of big changes in my life over the past two years, but one of the biggest changes is one that I am not sure most people outside my immediate circle would even notice, but it’s there: I’ve lost my morning person personality.

The Moment I Wake Up…

I have been a morning person for several years. When I was younger, it was more of a “once I’m up, I’m up” sort of thing. I didn’t go out of my way to get up early if I didn’t have to, but if I did have to, I wasn’t hating life the whole time. I liked mornings. I love breakfast food, the early-morning smells, the soft light. I also felt like many of the times I had to be up extra-early, it was for something extra-special (like a trip or a flight), so I started to associate mornings with fun and special occasions.

The summer I interned at ELLE, I had to get up early if I wanted to work out. My days were so long and hectic, I knew waiting until the end of the day to work out was just a bad idea. So I started setting my alarm for 6 AM and getting up and doing pilates, running, or using the elliptical. One of the fastest ways to become a morning person, I’ve found, is to not feel like you have a choice. The dorm where I stayed that summer overlooked Central Park and I had an amazing view during my morning workouts. I liked the quiet of the mornings; though I was in the city that never sleeps, the summer mornings were surprisingly quiet. I loved my time alone when I could soak up all the sunlight streaming into the fitness center before spending another crazy day in the windowless office. Even on weekends, I still woke up early without an alarm, and I loved walking around the Upper West Side as the city was just beginning to stir.

Because I was getting up so early, I knew I had to go to bed early; by the end of the summer, my whole day had shifted forward by a couple hours. I was a morning person through and through.

This turned out to be both a blessing and a curse during my senior year of college, which followed that summer. On the one hand, I was super productive most days. I could get up and go to the gym and get work done before my 9:10 class in the mornings. When my sorority sisters were just dragging themselves into the dining room for breakfast, I was bounding in, wide-awake and extra chipper because I’d already accomplished three things on my to do list. On the other hand, it meant that I started nodding off around 10:00 at night…not exactly convenient for the side of me that still liked to party. And even if I did push through it, and stay till last call, I’d still wake up at 6 AM. So if I went to bed after 2 AM…well, you can see how that would make for a really shitty morning after. Being a morning person when you were just a night owl a few hours before is the worst.

I kept getting up at 6 AM over the next couple years, usually rolling out of bed and going straight to work out. After I moved home from NYC, I discovered that 7 AM to 11 AM was my most productive time of day, so rather than waste it on a workout, I’d get up and get to work. I’d write and do work from 7:00 until about 3:00 in the afternoon, when I’d go work out. I feel like that’s my body’s favorite way to get things done.

The Worst Part of Waking Up

As my life has gotten busier over the past few months, I’ve realized that I need to reclaim my mornings as my best time of day and start getting up early to get something done. Whether it’s grocery shopping, writing, reading e-mails, working out, or hanging out with Eric, that’s a time of day I can’t afford to waste. But unfortunately, my mornings are not coming back to me as easily as I had hoped.

At some point over the past year or so, my natural wake-up time went from 6 AM to 7 AM. I know it’s a small difference and 7 AM is still pretty early, but to me, who relished all the things I could get done in that first hour, it’s huge. And while I can still physically get up at 6:00, my ability to be productive has all but vanished. I mean, I’m wide awake as I watch the morning news, but that doesn’t mean I can go knock out a workout or write 5,000 words. Not only am I later to rise, but I just feel slower too.

A couple weeks ago, determined to get my morning person personality back, I decided I was going to start going to the 6 AM yoga class at my studio. Now, even on my best and brightest mornings a couple years, being in the gym at 6:00 is still pushing it for me, so I shouldn’t have had such high expectations. But it was bad. The two mornings (out of six attempts) that I actually made it to the studio, I was so cranky, I nearly cried. The second time, I was certain if I stayed in child’s pose for more than three seconds, I’d just fall asleep on my mat. I actually ended up coming home from class that day and getting back in bed for another 30 minutes, which helped a lot. I felt amazing for the rest of the day, but I’m not sure if the awful first hour was worth it.

I don’t know what happened. I mean, to me, being a morning person has always started at night. If you go to bed early and give yourself enough time to get your 6-8 hours in (I’m a 7-hour girl myself), you should be fine to get up early, right? Well, that’s always how it was for me. But now it’s not anymore. All I can think is that the quality and quantity of my sleep has changed dramatically in the past year. I mean, I’m still doing a lot of things that I’ve seen experts recommend — I don’t watch TV in bed, I turn off the technology before bed, I only use the bed for sleep and sex, I keep the room cool, and I wear a sleep mask — but I’m fairly certain the quality of my sleep just isn’t what it used to be, even if I’m technically in bed for seven hours a night.

A few weeks ago, pissed off at myself for letting another morning slip away, I made a list of all the things that I think may be getting in the way of a good night’s sleep.

My new bedfellow. There’s also the fact that I now have a bedfellow. While I bought him an alarm for Christmas in 2010 that wakes him up gradually with natural light before emitting a calming bell sound as the actual alarm and he’s stopped hitting the snooze for the most part (don’t even get me started on the snooze button, there have been a few days recently where he’s reset his alarm three times. He’s also had to go in to work a few times at a truly obscene hour. After I spent one day extremely tired because his alarm woke me up 3:45 AM, we agreed that next time, he’d sleep in the spare bedroom. Call me unromantic, but sometimes having a warm body next to you is really overrated.

My amazing mattress. Eric used to jokingly accuse me of “becoming a human blanket” in the middle of the night because we’d wake up and I’d basically be sleeping on top of him. I tried to explain to him that this was because the mattress dipped in the middle and gravity was pulling me toward him. The few nights when I tried to prevent this, he slept great and I slept like shit because I basically clung to the side of the bed the whole night. After moved in together and moved the bed to a different room, we unintentionally flipped his mattress…and then he became the human blanket. After about three nights of this, he announced it was time for a new mattress. We did a little shopping and I convinced him that buying a $1200 memory foam mattress at this point was not the best idea — especially because this was beginning to go in a “But then I’d probably want to get a King, so maybe I should just get a whole new bedroom set…” direction — we ended up putting a $140 memory foam mattress topper from Kohl’s on a $250 IKEA mattress. It was the best decision we’ve ever made; that bed is insanely comfortable now. The only problem? It’s nearly impossible to get out of it in the morning. It totally sucks you in, making getting up ten times harder, no matter how much sleep you got the night before.

The puppies. At first, this made sense, but as they got older, it started to get better. Chuck had all but stopped crying in the mornings…but for the past month or so, he’s been going through a phase where he wakes up around 5 AM screeching like the house is on fire. I got earplugs but they haven’t been staying in my ears, so I think it’s time to upgrade.

Stress. Like I said, my life has gotten busier, and I have had more things on my mind to keep me up at night. Yoga is great for helping me shut my brain off, but when I shut my brain off for 90 minutes a day…well, those were 90 minutes my brain may have needed to be on. I’m not sure what the solution is to that yet.

While all this makes sense, I didn’t expect it to make me so…sad. Seeing all the reasons spelled out like that, I realized why I’d been so frustrated with myself for not being able to get back to my old routine. It’s because all of those things are a direct result of living in sin.

With all the obvious sacrifices that came with of moving in with Eric and getting puppies, I didn’t expect to take a change to my sleeping habits so hard. Every morning that I can’t get myself up for a workout or that I spend taking my sweet time getting my day started, I feel really guilty, like I’m letting my younger self down. It’s so weird because I didn’t think that being a morning person was that special, but now that it’s slipping away, it feels like it was the basis of my whole single-girl identity. It made me productive, successful, and confident, which, I suppose, were pretty big parts of my identity. Without it, I feel less productive and therefore less successful and confident. And I feel like I totally sold out the sisterhood or something. Every time I hit re-set my alarm for a half-hour later, I worry, on some level, that I’m settling down and giving up.

There are a lot of things I expected to miss about being single, but I never expected this to be the thing I’d take the hardest when I began this new (and, in fairness, wonderful and exciting!) chapter in my life. At this point, I’m not sure if I should just accept the change and just hope I’ll eventually find a way to make up for the lost hours, or keep fighting to hold onto the seemingly-small thing that, apparently, means a hell of a lot more to me than I realized.

{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Claire @ Live and Love to Eat February 6, 2012 at 5:08 pm

I absolutely feel your pain on this one. It’s much harder to go to sleep earlier on the nights I want to get up early the next morning – my husband and I enjoy the end of the day laying together to talk and catch up. Sometimes we watch TV or I read – it’s hard to cut those activities (and others) short in favor of falling asleep.

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2 Kionda February 6, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Your pain is felt across many boards, sweetheart. There was a time when I missed my 5am runs, followed by the rest of my morning routine that energized me for my days. With every addition in one’s life comes the possibility of change within one’s routine. The key is to make it work best for you and all others involved. Easier said than done. Doable all the same.

I have no doubt that a kick ass solution will be thought up and implemented in no time. It may be as simple as taking it in smaller increments – 15 minute increments to be exact. It’s a good way to work up to that hour that you want.

Good luck! :)

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3 Ami August 24, 2012 at 1:23 pm

I wish there was a like button on this blog, because I really appreciate the wisdom of recognizing the changes that come with a routine when there are additions to your life.

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4 Alexandra February 6, 2012 at 5:40 pm

This couldn’t come at a better time! I used to be such a morning person, but as of late I’ve just felt so sluggish, even with sufficient sleep. I think most people get a better night’s sleep when slumbering alone, so I’m thinking of setting up a bed of blankets for my BF in the bathtub.

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5 Megan C. February 6, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Even as a child I was always a night owl over being a morning person. There is something about the sleep you get when you roll back over and go to sleep that is so much better. But when I moved in with J my schedule changed. We went to bed at 10:00 pm and woke up at 5:30 am. Thanks to that schedule the dogs still stay on that schedule. I celebrate when they let me sleep until 6:00 am. Some mornings I use that time for productive things like laundry, house cleaning, working out, or walking the dogs other good things. Other mornings (if it’s raining) the dogs and I hunker down on the couch until it is time for me to get ready to go to work.

I will agree though there is something very nice about the calm that occurs in the morning. But I’m still a night owl at heart.

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6 Katy February 6, 2012 at 6:08 pm

I am about 4 years ahead of you in the living in sin business (except I’m married now), and I have to say that this all happened to me too. It took me a LONG time to realize what was bugging me and why I felt like I was “slipping away” from myself–so kudos to you for nailing it down a lot sooner, it seems like.

I think it’s a pendulum swing…I swung allll the way over to doing many things the way my husband did them, to be accomodating and cooperative…and just because it was easier. But once I noticed what was happening, I started to reclaim small things–eating smaller dinners, waking up early, using scented laundry detergent. It helped a lot to reclaim those little things I used to do that made me feel more like me. And it’s still a process, of course. Good luck!

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7 Lisa February 6, 2012 at 7:13 pm

I’m currently living in sin as well and you’ve hit the nail on the head as to why I cannot get a good night’s sleep. I too am a morning person but it is so hard most days to get up. I still manage it but only bc I go upstairs a few hours before my BF. Even then, I’m not going right to bed. I feel like that is “my time”. I love living together but there are definitely times I miss “single me”, who just like you said, felt productive after getting up early and getting things done.

I like what Kionda said about how with addition’s come changes. Definitely true!

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8 Bridget February 6, 2012 at 7:40 pm

I am also a morning person but living out of a bag while going back and forth between apartments is wearing on me.

I cannot stand the snooze person. JUST SET THE ALARM FOR WHEN YOU WANT TO GET UP. Then be an adult and get your a*s out of bed. Don’t get the button 80000 times because then I jerk awake every single time. It’s not worth the extra 5 minutes, it’s not even good sleep. JUST GET UP.

Although this rant might also be due to lack of sleep.

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9 Bess February 6, 2012 at 8:57 pm

Could not agree more… the snooze button is SO annoying especially with all these cell phone alarms with the most obnoxious alarm tones! I had a roommate who drove me bananas with this.

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10 Kristin February 6, 2012 at 7:49 pm

I would say to give it a bit more time before mourning too seriously. It’s likely that you just need to allow more time for your circadian rhythm to realign. The best way to make it easier is to get up at the same time every day, including weekends. Or you might try moving it up 15 minutes or so (as in getting up later). And of course just ignore me if you’re already doing/have done those things. Either way, good luck! Being tired is ballsweat awful.

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11 Rachel February 6, 2012 at 8:38 pm

Thanks…I’m really hoping they will realign! I do get up at the same time most days, though I haven’t been as diligent with it as I could be. Maybe I will make that my goal this month!

Also, “ballsweat awful” = awesome.

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12 Becca February 6, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Ugh, ditto to all of this, except the dog part – we don’t have those. I also attribute it to the Boyfriend. I’m thinking Lucy and Ricky had it right with the separate twin beds, or Marshall and Lily for any HIMYM fans :)

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13 Bess February 6, 2012 at 8:57 pm

I could relate to this post on so many levels… I’ve been a morning person probably my whole life, much to the chagrin of my college friends who would get so annoyed when I would call them at 8am after staying out till 4:30am to see if they were ready for breakfast. Never was a napper (even started a revolt to end nap time in preschool) and also am a 7 hours of sleep a night kind of girl.

It sounds like you are still doing a good job of maintaining your morning productivity though!

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14 Deva @ Deva by Definition February 6, 2012 at 11:13 pm

You just described me. I’d be up at 9 after being out til 2am in college, and I wouldn’t nap in preschool. When I did, they’d check me for a fever because I was likely sick.

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15 Malorie February 6, 2012 at 9:09 pm

I totally agree on the warm body next to you being overrated. My husband works nights sometimes and I sleep so much better when he isn’t there! It takes me a while to become functional in the morning so I like to take my dog for a walk as soon as I get up. It helps wake me up and gives me time to think about all the stuff that I would have been worrying about during the night.

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16 Rachel February 6, 2012 at 9:16 pm

That’s a good idea…Eric has morning dog walking duties, but the times I’ve gone with him, I’ve really enjoyed it. Maybe I should give that a try this week!

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17 Kristin February 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm

When my husband is here, I have a lot more trouble getting out of bed in the morning. When he’s away (deployed), it’s a lot easier. I know exactly what you mean!

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18 Ashley February 6, 2012 at 10:22 pm

This could have happened to me — my husband is a total non-morning person who has to wake up in stages, whereas when I open my eyes … I’m pretty much ready to dance. Seeing his ridiculous wake-up routine made me embrace my morning person persona. I’m even switching gyms so I can start hitting 6a spin.

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19 Rachel's Mom February 6, 2012 at 10:37 pm

I always say I am a “night person with a morning person’s career.” Even now, I really should be getting ready for bed, but here I am, reading your blog. :) 11:00pm is my goal every night…I rarely make it to bed before 11:45.

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20 Emma February 6, 2012 at 10:51 pm

Okay, it’s not really about this right now, but this post reminded me of this quote that I love; it’s from an Augusten Burroughs book. Like I said, I know this isn’t really what you’re looking for, but I always think of it when I’m mourning my single life:
“I take the subway uptown. I think, Have I given up anything by living with another person? Has there been a trade-off? Always, there is a trade-off. And the answer comes to me instantly. I have given up a certain degree of freedom. The ability to plow through my life with utter distregard for the thoughts and feelings of other people. I can no longer read a magazine and throw it on the floor.
In exchange, I get unlimited access to the one person I have met in my life whom I automatically felt was out of my league. My favorite human being, the single person I cherish above all others. This is the person I get to share the oxygen in the room with.
And for this, I will happily scrub the toilet. And I won’t make fun of anybody who drives an SUV. Unless, of course, they really deserve it. And I’ll try to let things happen. Not always feel like I have to control everything.” ~ Magical Thinking, Augusten Burroughs

“Everything’s a trade-off” is a running joke/mantra in our house.

I’ll write a more appropriate response at some point. :)

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21 Lindsey February 6, 2012 at 11:05 pm

Since it’s the week before Valentine’s Day, I am very pleased to keep finding reasons why being single is awesome. Thank you.

Okay, but seriously. Sleep issues are SO difficult to nail down, but so often it’s one significant issue that’s messing up your routine. I totally agree that being a morning person starts at night, and I’m willing to bet that there’s something disrupting your sleep that you haven’t even considered. It could be a quality of sleep issue – for example, my best friend was just telling me that she discovered last week that her boyfriend pulls the covers down around his waist, while she likes to pull them up over her shoulders. A second blanket was added to their bed, and now they’re both happy. It could also have to do with your pre-bed routine. I’ve learned that I need a good half hour to 40 minutes of just not talking to anyone (playing Words With Friends, watching TV, reading your blog… whatever) before I can sleep comfortably. Sleep can be affected by when and how much you eat, when and how much you exercise, when and how much you do your job, etc. You could be allergic to your pillows, scratched by your sheets, or subconsciously annoyed by a smell in the room. I’m also wondering if that memory foam might be too insulating for you – I know a lot of people who have had poor experiences with memory foam because it keeps them too warm.

I’d bet that if you take a little time to try some different things, you’ll figure out what’s getting to you. I hope you find a balance that works for you!

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22 Deva @ Deva by Definition February 6, 2012 at 11:16 pm

So, The Boy and I have been living in sin for very close to five years now. I used to be a morning person, and now I’m working on getting back to there. It has taken me about five weeks to get used to waking up early, but there are mornings when I struggle. I’ve determined that I just need to do what is best for me. If that means going to bed at ten-thirty, I go to bed at ten-thirty. The Boy really doesn’t mind if I go to bed early or if I wake up early – as long as it’s not disrupting his sleep – and vice versa. There certainly are mornings when I sleep in, but not as much as before.

A king-sized bed and lots of blankets helps us, too. Lots of room and lots of covers to burrito up in!

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23 Maggie February 6, 2012 at 11:30 pm

And this is why I love your blog; you get at the deeper feeling behind the annoyance we feel about seemingly banal things. I moved in with my boyfriend for six months, and I felt horrible when I started sleeping later. And I now feel ecstatic because I’m back on my own (we’re long-distance) and back to my morning wake-up time. Totally disproportionate response, right? But you nailed it: waking up when I want to wake up represents autonomy, independence, and a connection to my prior self, my self before my relationship. It makes sense why I, and you, value (or miss) the ability to determine our own schedules. Thanks for helping me better understand these life transitions.

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24 Elisabeth February 7, 2012 at 8:15 am

I know exactly what you mean! After moving in with my s.o., my quality sleep went out the window. I mean, I love having him there pre-bedtime, but when it’s time to sleep, I kind of want to kick him out of bed!

Sidenote: I’ve been looking for one of those gradually light alarm clocks. What kind did you get Eric/does he recommend it?

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25 Rachel February 7, 2012 at 8:56 am

This is the one I got for him: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003XN4RIC/ref=oh_o00_s00_i00_details

He likes the wake-up sounds (less jarring than most alarms) but he claims the gradual light hasn’t done anything for him; I don’t know if I agree with that. Like I said, he’s gotten much better at not hitting the snooze. He says he still has trouble getting out of bed in the morning, which is true, but I think this is due to other factors (staying up too late, watching TV in bed/late at night, and drinking caffeine too late in the day).

I’m obviously affected by the alarm too and I can say that if I ever sleep without my mask on or if it falls off in the middle of the night, the gradual light does ease me into waking up. But like I said, I feel like I have other issues that start at bedtime that are making it hard for me to get up, and I’m not sure the alarm can make up for those.

So…I guess I’m saying that it’s hard to say! I feel like it doesn’t hurt but it’s also not cheap, so I’m not sure if it’s worth it to you. Sorry I don’t have a more definitive review!

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26 Elina (Healthy and Sane) February 7, 2012 at 9:17 am

I was never a morning person but once in a while I drag myself out of bed for an early workout… and I find it it’s just not the same. It’s better than nothing (if you have lot going on that day) but my energy just isn’t there. I think it’s ok to change to your new non-morning person self :)

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27 Amy February 7, 2012 at 9:35 am

This came at the absolute perfect time for me! Just this morning I was yet again annoyed at barely being able to drag myself out of bed close to 7:00 when I used to get up and go for runs/walks at 5:30. Why, oh why?! And I’m single by the way, so no one else around to blame except the dog, which actually I do think is part of the problem. You’ve inspired me to really take a look at what could be going on. I’m even going to start taking notes! I seem to be groggy regardless of how much sleep I get and just never feel like I’m properly rested. SO annoying! This has gone on for too long and it’s time to get it together!

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28 Dori February 7, 2012 at 11:20 am

I really enjoyed reading this post! I’ve always been a morning person, even though I never wanted to be. I spent my life envious of people able to sleep past 10, and on the very rare occasion I was able to do so, I felt SO unbelievably happy. But I’m not a late sleeper and I’ve eventually learned to embrace automatically waking up at 6 am on my own. I’m more productive and if my brain feels mushy after 3 pm or I can’t write a sentence to save my life after 7 pm, I always know I can go to sleep and wake up with just the right words in the morning.

As we get older, our bodies change. Your body wants to sleep later, so I say let it. Embrace it and work with what it does naturally.

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29 RAIN February 7, 2012 at 11:55 am

Sleep is SO important! I agree that sleeping with someone can be very difficult. My husband is an early riser, and he snores. So his snoring wakes me up a lot and when he wakes up ealry it always wakes me up (I am a light sleeper) and then it takes me SO long to go back to sleep! We have dogs also, and they wake me up all the time which is ANNOYING!

I found that being an early riser has MANY advantages! Especially getting workouts done early! You have to just make it a habit. As the days go by it will become easier, just don’t give up! I still have mornings where it’s a struggle, but I get up anyway and usually after a few minutes I am glad I woke up.

Sometimes I long for the days I could take naps…I miss naps :(

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30 Natakue February 7, 2012 at 4:19 pm

I can definitely relate to this post. I need a solid hour of total *silence* before falling to sleep. And with animals and modern dramaz, it just isn’t happening. Sucks! I try to just feel like a winner when I do get up early and workout, and then not think about it when I don’t…

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31 Ashley February 7, 2012 at 9:54 pm

Ahh I feel you on the puppy thing. Charlie is the sole reason for me not sleeping as much as I used to. He sleeps through the night thank god but every morning like clockwork he wakes up at 7:15 if I don’t wake him up before that. Fine for the week- horrible for the weekend when I am out until 2 the night before. And when he is up its time to PLAY.. no going out and going back to sleep.. so sad

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32 K @ The Chic Teach February 7, 2012 at 11:07 pm

I am such a morning freak, and I’m not sure why! But I do notice that when I start dating a guy, this slow diminishes…until I’m a total lazy bum in the morning! I need to nip this in the bud.

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33 Ali @ Around the VeggieTable February 9, 2012 at 3:44 pm

I TOTALLY relate to this! I was just reading this nodding my head the whole time. I go to bed before my fiance, so he wakes me up when he comes to bed, and then he snores, and then the cats jump on my bladder, and then his alarm goes off and he hits the snooze 3 times, and now I am realizing why it is so hard for me to actually get up in the morning…because even though I think I’ve gotten a good 8 hours of sleep, those 8 hours were interrupted 8 times. Depressing.

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34 Heidi February 14, 2012 at 8:25 pm

Good post. I really enjoyed it! I’ve always been a morning person, even though I never wanted to be. I spent my life envious of people able to sleep past 10, and on the very rare occasion I was able to do so, I felt SO unbelievably happy.

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35 Ami August 24, 2012 at 1:19 pm

I think you’ve outlined something so many of us are going through — reading through this post made me realize WHY it bugs me that I’m no longer a morning person for the same reasons it bugs you. Have you since found a way to cope with it or make compromises?

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36 Rachel August 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm

I have! I actually have been getting back to being a morning person slowly but surely, and the past couple weeks in particular have been a real turning point. I’ve realized that it’s never going to look exactly it used to, but I’m OK with a compromise because the stuff I’ve gained has been good too! But it’s taken nearly a year so be patient!

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