5:47am and Already on my Second Cup of Coffee


Awake for an hour already, but that’s okay — I did sleep well for 5 and 1/2 hours and that works for me, no matter what the “experts” say. 

Maybe it’s just me — although I doubt it very much — but listening to experts on how much sleep one needs is silly when your own mind and body sends you very clear signals on a daily basis for a variable that changes from day to day. 

As long as I feel good when I wake up, the rest is details. Sleep is to rest and recharge — if I feel rested and recharged, I’m good. The number of hours it took to get me there is immaterial. Who cares?

But what is there to do at 5:47am, you ask? Well I enjoy — actually I require — peace and solitude in the morning and so for me this is not an issue. Usually I have coffee and play a puzzle game like Solitaire or Sudoku, or listen to music or a podcast, but here are more things one could do:  read a book, pray, check online stuff, clean and organize your desk (or tackle some other 20 minute task that you “never have time for”), write an email to someone you haven’t connected with in a while, make a list for what needs done today or this week, etc. 

As always, the only limiting factor is your imagination. 

What if I get tired later? Well, then I get tired later. If I don’t, I don’t.

And I’ve also learned over the years, getting more sleep can easily become too much sleep and results in feeling groggy and out of it. We all have our “normal” amount of sleep that we like best and works well for us, but at least for me, there are some days I need either more or less than my normal amount. Who knows why? I don’t waste time trying to understand everything.

It’s all about feeling rested or at least “good enough” when you’re awake. Whatever amount of sleep gets you there on that day, that was the right amount.

In some ways this is just like my dad who woke up by 4:45 nearly every day, no alarm required. Early morning was “his” time:  he would make coffee, read the paper and do the crossword puzzle, listen to WGN-AM talk radio — Wally Phillips, just like every other adult in the midwest — plan his day, and just generally enjoy the quiet and solitude. 

Quiet and solitude. This is becoming a lost art, with smartphones, cable news and our strange and unhealthy need to know what’s going on halfway around the world, right now. 

It’s a radical thought these days, but taking time every day to live fully in the present, in your own physical space, and shut out the noise that disrupts your life is pretty important too. Maybe even more important than the hours of sleep we get, sometimes. 

It’s almost like our parents knew better. Crazy, huh?