Sleep (like cryptocurrency, or gourmet cupcakes circa 2008) is a valuable commodity. I’ve yearned for it for years. I’ve had glimpses and tastes of it, in five to six hour doses. It took me nearly three decades to realize it wasn’t hiding from me, but rather I was evading it. For the past three weeks, I’ve been getting a full eight hours of sleep and have somehow become a morning person in the process.
It began with one long day of work. On most evenings, I spend two minutes collating and inhaling my dinner (veggie burger in a low carb wrap, splash of A1 sauce–please hold all questions until the end!). Afterward, I’ll put on one of my shows—The Good Doctor, This is Us, or one of the half dozen YouTube channels I subscribe to that make DIYs from items purchased from the Dollar Tree. (I find them affecting, resourceful, and odd.) I then spend the next few hours in a bovine stupor screenshotting my enemies’ Instagram stories. Feeling myself hit my usual 8PM wall, I briefly wondered: Why am I trying to stay up? This isn’t Nightmare on Elm Street. Stumped, I just decided to call it a night. Thirty minutes later I was out cold.
The next morning my eyes opened before my alarm. I felt great. Spry, even. I felt the way Michelle Obama’s arms look. I glanced at the clock—4:30AM. A full eight hours of sleep! Unsure of my next move and giddy as hell, I put on the 1997 romantic comedy Beautician And The Beast. Taking the birds chirping outside as a sign to caffeinate, I got up to make a cup of coffee and began the Times crossword. I had what was, frankly, a lovely-ass morning, and proceeded to take my time getting dressed and preened. I arrived 15 minutes early to work (fully awake, instead of my usual comatose) and was too busy arranging banana coins into the shape of breakfast to see whether or not my boss noticed this gesture.
I acclimated quickly to this routine thanks to my vitamin B12 deficiency, and occasionally, ZzzQuil. My average mood ring color has shifted from pâté beige to a vibrant tomato. I keep myself busy with toils I usually had too little zeal to tackle at the end of the day. The tasks run the gamut from corporeal (running outdoors, doing crunches) to culinary (boiling eggs by the dozen, comparing air fryers on Amazon) or hygienic (full body exfoliating, organizing my underwear drawer by form, factor, and color). Every day feels like a weekend.
There are some disadvantages, of course. I missed the Oscars, for one. Sometimes I miss so many of my friends’ texts that it feels like we’re Keanu and Sandra in The Lake House. Also, no one believes me. Early in my experiment, I woke up to a friend’s text from the night before and replied promptly upon waking. He didn’t respond but rather decided to broach the subject in person two weeks later.
“You responded to my text at 4 in the morning… were you just getting home?” he asked, pointedly, coming for my life.
“No, I’m doing this new thing where I go to bed early and wake up around then.”
I’ll take CYNICAL for 800, Mr. Trebek!
Why commit to an early-to-bed, early-to-rise sleeping structure? Because it’s hard to muster up the spirit for worthwhile “me time” at the end of the day when you’re running on Low Power Mode. This modified schedule allows you to be fruitful and prolific while finding out what you look like without eye bags. Look—I get it—an 8PM bedtime has just a passing acquaintance with sustainability. If, at some point, I get a social life or a dog, I’ll need to reassess. Until then, I’ll think of it like colon hydrotherapy, drinking dirty martinis, and FaceTiming my mom—is it likely I’ll get to do it every day? No. Do I look forward to the next time I get to? Rabidly.
Photographed by the author.