Three months ago, I began an experiment into Larkism. The question was whether I could turn this hardened night owl into a lark.
It was a tough call. There’s nothing I like better than tapping the keys after midnight in an otherwise silent house with no untimely interruptions and no nagging to-do lists – none that can’t be hushed until morning for fear of waking the family, at least. And there are few things I like less than getting up on the command of the alarm clock when it’s still dark, to take that long, lonely walk downstairs to the kettle, knowing I could just turn over and have-a-few-more-minutes.
Or so I thought.
Since that life-changing day in June, I have been jumping out of bed at 5am like the archetypal lark and have discovered that my love for that chunk of day rarely previously experienced (following sleep, anyway) knows no boundaries. These days, if I wake after 5am, I’m cross. This is why:
- Having a set two hours of time at the start of the day has made me more focused and thus more productive. Whatever happens, by 7am I have two hours of writing behind me and I feel more fulfilled than I often used to feel all day.
- I’ve discovered that the hours between 10pm and 2am weren’t four but two and a bit. Midnight was the beginning of ‘faffing’ time. I was slower at every task than I’d realised, easily distracted and much as I think there’s a place for Facebook, Twitter, emailing and home shopping, I don’t think it’s worth a lethargic two hour chunk of my life every day.
- I’m tired at night and I like it. I can’t pretend to be exhausted like my they-broke-the-mould-when-they-made-this-particular-lark husband but I’m happy to wind down. The day has more structure and it feels more natural.
- I like the fact that by 4pm and home from school time, I can have double digit hours of constructive work behind me. The pressure of always trying to figure out just when I could fit in another hour of writing is no longer there. I still write in the evenings but now it’s a bonus.
- Before my foray into Larkism I was not firing on all cylinders. People used to marvel at how I could survive on four hours sleep a night, comparing me to Margaret Thatcher (DON’T even go there) but I’ve realised that survival was exactly what I was doing. I had a diet of tea (I still do tea) and lists. In my owl days, notes scribbled in the small hours were the only way I could possibly get my children to school with the correct allocation of sandwiches, clothing, homework and plaits. It took me until around 10am to manage anything near lucid thought without my array of prompts.
So, after my three month experiment into changing body clocks, it’s a definitive yes to Larkism for me. I think underneath I’ll always be a natural owl – I can’t imagine ever leaving a party early because my bed is calling – but for an easier, more fulfilling way of living, this lark is setting her alarm for 5am for the foreseeable future. In the words of the wonderful, Jimmy Cliff, I can see clearly now the rain has gone.
How about you?