I haven't always been a morning person by time definition. I have always been quite pleasant by attitude once I'm awake though. When I was younger, and especially in my teen years, I appreciated sleeping in. Not only was it sleeping in that I really enjoyed but it was 12+ hours of sleep. Doesn't that just sound so wonderful!?!, (calling all my full time parents, full time workers, doers of life and anyone that has any responsibility outside of being a kid!)
But the reality of waking up early and functioning on smaller amounts of sleep was realized when I turned 14.
I was priveleged (didn't consider it a privelege then as a teenager who appreciated sleep) to attend early morning (5:30AM) seminary at my local church building. In Virginia, local church building meant it was a 30 minute drive. (Attending seminary, similar to a bible study group however focusing on all the LDS standard works, the Bible, Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price and Doctrine & Covenants, was a 4 year requirement for attending a LDS Church owned University, at least if you were already an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and this was an eventual goal I had in mind. None the less, getting up just before 5am became the norm.
There were plenty of days that I chose sleep over getting up, sleeping in the car, sleeping in class and wondering why I was even going in the first place. It truly was a social opportunity for me to connect with my fellow LDS friends who held the same standards I did as a teenager that helped buoy my spirits when we would leave each other and attend our various different high schools.
The days I missed getting up and going, I could tell a HUGE difference in my energy levels, my patience and productivity. WHY? I was getting more sleep?!?
Fast forward 10 years later and I was pregnant with my 3rd child. Knowing that sleep is super important to my growth and happiness, God granted me babies that were easily trainable to sleep throughout the night, only waking to eat and be changed and return to their restful slumber. Getting up and feeding them was still challenging, and I HAD help! I found myself exhausted throughout the days wondering "was this stage of life going to get any easier?" I had a 3 year old and a 1 year old and pregnant with my 3rd. I was a busy momma, but sleep was calling me throughout the day, EVERYDAY.
What was missing came half way through this pregnancy and that was introducing some foundational principles of getting up early myself to have alone time and do what I wanted/needed to do to feel refreshed and ready to serve my family. Some days that meant taking a shower before the early rising children. Some days it meant I was able to squeeze in a class at the gym; Zumba was my favorite especially watching the looks on others faces as my body moved with the moves but my belly stayed put. Some days that meant just being awake before anyone else and just sitting there waiting.
OH I FORGOT TO MENTION ONE VERY IMPORTANT PIECE OF MY NEED FOR SLEEP. I ABSOLUTELY DESPISE BEING WOKEN UP! (Ask my poor husband for more details if you need a different view of me or to hear how he was questioning marrying me after I fell asleep in the dorm halls working on our wedding announcements.) This is key to understanding why it was important for me to be the first one awake instead of a creepy child coming to the side of your bed and saying 'wanna eat mom'.
Back to my pregnancy days with my 3rd child. It was this moment that I realized that taking care of me was how I was going to be a happy mommy/wife/neighbor/friend/etc.
BUT IT WAS SO HARD TO GET UP! I had to train myself to turn off my alarm after the third time and not just keep snoozing. (I set my alarm clock for 15 minutes before I need to be awake with the time being 10 minutes faster than the normal time. I seriously spend so much time rationalizing the 9 minute snooze that I just need to GET UP!) It was even harder when the dark, cold mornings begged me to stay in my warm bed.
Yet my mind went back to my seminary days in high school. If a teenager can get up and feel the difference of not taking care of themselves first, then surely an adult will be able to rationalize the need for it even more!
In those 6 months after I discovered where my true strength lied from getting up early and taking care of me, my pregnancy was much better. My naps were more productive throughout the day, spending time with my other littles was more enjoyable and I had more energy for my husband when he returned from work. If I was feeling this good pregnant, I began to daydream of how AWESOME it would be when I wasn't carrying an extra 25 pounds and nourishing a human.
Since then, I have strived to keep true to what I learned when I was a teenager and again when I was pregnant with my third baby; take care of me, take care of them. For me, that meant a sacrifice of my sleep.
Don't let me steer you in the wrong direction here, I am NOT superhuman and can work on limited amounts of sleep. I still get my 7-8 hours of sleep, I just go to bed much earlier than most people do, and I'm okay with that.
Sometimes sacrifice isn't convenient nor is it fun, but any sacrifice that I've made in my life has meant more to me than what I might be missing out on if I don't.
My vision for you to understand from sharing my stories today is that you'll find what makes you feel your best and make sure you do that first! It doesn't have to be what I do, it has to be what's right for you and only you know what that is.
Take care of you so you can take care of them (family, coworkers, neighbors, etc.)