How many times over the years have I written variations of the hospital order O.O.B.?
Like, “O.O.B. to chair w assistance b.i.d.”
In regular English, this is a medical directive to the nursing staff to “Please assist the patient in arising out of the hospital bed and making their way to the recliner in their room at least twice daily”.
For a postoperative patient, getting up out of bed is generally ideally accomplished sooner than later. Eventually, it is imperative.
In my own life, I am usually up and out of my bed very early, hours before Hubby and the kids are stirring (but not before the cats).
The past couple of months I have seriously struggled with this. I’m sure there are many reasons– it’s winter, it’s cold, it’s dark out, I’m going to bed too late, I’m prone to this sort of thing…
But it’s not okay. Early morning is the time when my brain is functioning at its best, the time when I’m the most productive, and, most importantly, the only time I have to myself.
On a good day, I’ll get up early, get exercise, get on the computer, write and/or catch up with clinical work, and maybe even do some household chores.
Exercise first thing not only feels amazing, it sets up my day. If I’ve gotten a workout in, I feel awake, alert, and happy. I’ll make healthier food choices. And, best of all, I’ll sleep better that night.
That’s all very fine and good, but what’s a really big deal is having some quality quiet time to do work, whatever that may be, without being pulled in other directions, or frankly interrupted.
Many people catch up with work after their kids are in bed. Me, if I haven’t fallen asleep with the kids, my brain has. None of my best intellectual work gets accomplished at nighttime. If I can do anything, it’s a few chores, maybe some light reading, that’s it. For me, for mental tasks, it’s gotta be morning.
So I’ve been working on this, trying to sort out this clinical dilemma. How can I will myself out of my warm, comfy bed and get moving in the morning?
I tried setting an alarm. But if I didn’t HAVE to be up for work, I would just shut it off and go back to sleep. only rolling out of bed when harassed by my kids. This resulted in many rushed mornings and harried days, with me feeling yucky, achy, slovenly. This is just not me.
I tried setting out my workout clothes the night before. I tried wearing my workout clothes to bed. I tried setting up my work station and making a to-do list.
Somehow, I kept sleeping in.
Irregular sleep/wake hours are a cause of fatigue and concentration difficulties. The most basic medical advice for people with insomnia is to set strict bed and waking times, choosing decent times that coincide with darkness and light as much as possible.
The pattern I had fallen into was not only causing me to lose my best productive time, but was causing me to lose ALL of my productive time. It just didn’t feel good.
So I kept studying the issue and experimenting with new combinations of action plans. After all, I knew I could succeed, because I had in the past. I knew I had to succeed, because I have alot going on. My brain needed me to come through.
I’m happy to say that I’ve got in a week with a regular five a.m. wakeup time, using a combination of planning, preparation, and aides to get back into my standard sleep/ wake times and habits.
What worked for me may not work for everyone, but, something will work for everyone.
- I closed the kitchen at 8 p.m. as snacking before bedtime can interfere with good sleep.
- I re-instated my brief nightly stretching and core exercise routine (a five-minute round of planks, pushups, and yoga poses that’s great for relaxation, as well as my back).
- I banned my phone or computer for the thirty minutes before bedtime, because blue light interferes with falling asleep. Also, social media is addictive, and is hard to put down. Better not to even pick it up in the evenings.
- I placed a couple of books, real books, at the bedside and read for a few minutes before lights-out.
- I set a ten p.m. lights-out goal for most nights.
- I set a five a.m. wakeup for most days.
- I adopted a mantra (my favorite Peloton instructor’s “YES YOU CAN”.)
- I told my husband I was bringing back my early morning routine come hell or high water.
- I set out my workout clothes, prepped the coffee maker, and even got out a water bottle the night before.
- I decided I would write all about it if I succeeded.
So, it’s been a week. Ask me in a couple of months how it’s going.
Chances are I’ll tell you that it hasn’t been perfect and I’ve slid for stretches, but with ongoing thoughtful adjustments, I’m essentially back into my regular early morning routine: O.O.B. by five a.m.
Whoo hoo! Photo credit: https://unsplash.com/@reddangelo
Sweating on the spin bike at sunrise!