I have an alarm clock on my nightstand, as I’m sure many people do. Maybe not as many as before the digital age, but I have been in enough places to notice that alarm clocks are still common (although the selection at the local retailer is getting as small as the software isle). I have this clock set to go off at 6 am. It does this without regard to which day of the week it is. Even though it is Bluetooth enabled, it does not have programming options to set which days it goes off automatically. I have to manually tell it to go off or not. I also have my cell phone set to go off every weekday at 5:30 am and unlike my clock, I don’t have to turn off the alarm on the weekends because it does that by programming. And just as a backup, I have a Zigbee automated outlet that turns my lamp on at 5:30 too. I have to be up and heading for the shower by 6 to make it to work on time and this regime helps to keep me on time. Of course, no one wants to get up early if they don’t have to. The weekends have long been the respite from early mornings of buzzing clocks and chiming phones. But the sad truth is I don’t really need any of this stuff. As the years go by, my body has developed a more annoying way of ensuring I get up before 6 everyday, regardless of which day of the week it is.
When I was young, my parents were always up before me on school days. Even though we had to leave for school before they went to work, mom was up and about ensuring we had everything we needed to get off to the bus stop in time. On the weekends, however, no one needed to tell us to get up. My brother and I made a point of being up and in front of the TV for our Saturday morning cartoons. Superfriends, Scooby Doo, and Bugs Bunny set our internal alarm clocks and we never hit snooze. By the time Fat Albert came on, we were ready to head outside for whatever mischief we could dig up. This internal alarm clock didn’t work on Sundays, however. Mom had to drag us out of bed in time to get ready for church.
As I got older, sleep became more alluring. In my teen years, my internal alarm clock got stuck on perpetual snooze. Either that or it broke entirely. Most adolescents share this antipathy toward getting out of bed, which lasts well into their 20’s. I thought it would last forever. I imagined spending long, languid days lounging in bed on the weekends. I didn’t count on aging. I didn’t remember my Granny’s example.
Every time we went to visit Granny, she was out of bed and in her recliner with a steaming cup of Folgers and the morning edition of the Democrat-Gazette before any of us had even shuffled to the bathroom. This happened seven days a week. This happened even though she was retired from her position as a teacher. I remember, as a teenager, being in awe that she was always up so early, even though she didn’t have to be. Why would any sane person be out of bed at 6 am if they didn’t absolutely HAVE to be under penalty of death or dismemberment?
Well, now I know.
Once a body hits a certain age–and this age is different for different people–it has different requirements and priorities. While sleep is still important, the priority is often just a short walk down the hallway or in the adjacent room. This priority is often attended in a semi-conscious state if awake at all. Now, after relieving that priority, one might assume one could just drift back to bed, but no; the body has yet other ideas. After trying to nestle back into the just-starting-to-cool sheets of the bed, I feel like a dog turning circles trying to settle in. I end up flipping back and forth, rolling from one side to the other trying to get comfortable again to no avail. With a groan of frustration, I look at the clock. 6 am. Almost every day. Some days it’s even earlier. Most mornings, I spend a few minutes counting down until the alarm clock sounds.
The true frustration is on the weekends, when I would really like to spend a few hours catching up on some Z’s as the morning light begins to stream in through the windows. Alas, the times my body lets me stay in bed past oh-dark-thirty are few and far between, to the point of being rare. Even this morning, I was awake and doing my horizontal rolling dance, trying to find a comfortable position until I surrendered to the inevitable and got up at 7:30. Most weekends, I lay in bed and listen to my lovely wife softly snore and other times, I sit in the family room and listen to her not so softly snore.
There are benefits to this internal alarm clock. I never oversleep. I am usually on time for work. I am rarely affected by time changes messing me up. My internal clock seems to be on daylight savings time at the appropriate instances and it accounts for time zones when I travel. Perhaps I could try to package this. I could single handedly put the alarm clock industry out of business. Too bad my internal clock doesn’t have Bluetooth.