When I was high school, my favorite hobby was sleeping. When I got home, I would usually go to my room and take a nap. I would wake up in time to eat dinner and then I would normally go back to bed. As you can probably see, I was an incredibly boring kid.
The Navy changed all that, mostly against my will. I think it was the Army that used to have the motto, “We do more before 8 a.m. than most people do all day.” I have no doubt that is still true for them, but I know for a fact that it is true for us when we’re underway. I won’t go into too much detail about our day, but I normally began it around 5:00 a.m. It was incredibly painful at first, but after awhile, it just becomes the norm. I would try my best to end my day by 10:00 p.m., but that wasn’t always possible. There are other things like watches that throw a kink in your schedule as well. Whenever possible, I would try to grab a quick nap during lunch, but I probably average somewhere between 5 and 6 hours of sleep when I’m underway.
This is a difficult thing to turn off, so I mostly just go with it. Now that I’m on shore duty for awhile, I could start forcing myself to sleep in later (assuming that the kids would let me), but I normally do just fine with 5 hours of sleep, so it’s not really worth the effort. Plus, eventually, I’ll be back on a ship, and I’ll have to start with the rise and shine routine all over again.
As a result, I still get up pretty early. I’m able to wake up instantly and start my day. Most mornings, I’m the bright-eyed, bushy-tailed person that most people probably hate. I never push the snooze button, and I don’t seem to need caffeine. I’ll usually drink a cup of coffee, but it’s more because I love the taste than anything else. On the weekends, my wife and I try to switch who gets up with the kids, so the other person can get some sleep. If it’s my turn to stay in bed, I’ll usually just lay there and read since I can rarely fall back to sleep anyway. Other times, I’ll just get up and try to get things done (like writing blog posts) while the rest of the family snoozes away.
During the week, I’ve managed to translate it into more family time. I’m almost always out the door by 6:00 while the family is still asleep. Since I get to work early, I’m able to get home early and hang out with the family while they’re actually awake. It’s nice to be home in time to help make dinner or help our daughter with her homework. It’s one of the ways that I’m able to maximize the time with my family before I go back to sea.
I know that mornings aren’t for everyone, but if you get a chance, try it out every once in awhile. You’d be amazed at how much you can actually get done when you are the only one that’s putting demands on your time. It is worth noting, however, that none of this applies to me when I’m waking up from a nap. I wake up from those like a hibernating bear that just had a bee fly up its nose. I am normally on the war path after naps, and it’s best for everyone to just stay out of my way. This is the main reason that I don’t take more naps.