I love the magazine The Week. My news comes from The Week’s weekly’ round up, a daily Guardian email and either Mock The Week or Have I Got News For You on BBC. The Week is my Friday read, either lunch time or the evening. I go from cover to cover. But this week The Week’s editorial annoyed me.
There has been an interesting bit of research that suggests that women who get up early are less likely to get breast cancer than women who don’t get up early. Joylon, the editor of The Week, appeared to get a bit up tight and to say that these women who got up early were not getting enough sleep and should “have a lie in”. The reason it riled me was
because I am an early rise. I have no reason to get up early, no job to rush off to, no kids to get up, but every morning without fail I wake between 5.30-6,30. There is nothing I can do about it. Do I get enough sleep? I hope so because most nights my light is out by 10-10.30pm. I am not up late trying to get lots of things done. I just have a body that wakes naturally early. I repeat there is nothing I can do about it.
For most of my life I have been an early riser. There have been times in my life where it may not have looked like I was but that was because I have been awake in the night for a few hours and was having to catch up. Yes I have had those times when I have not had enough sleep. I used to be a barmaid – though that was in the good old days when pubs rang last orders at 10.50 and called time at 11pm – and would not get home till gone midnight and still wake early.
My son’s sleep pattern is like clockwork. I’m not sure what time he now goes to bed because he doesn’t live with me, but the times he comes to stay he is still up between 7-7.30 just like he used to be as a child. My daughter on the other hand is a late riser. As a baby and a young child she never slept, or so it seemed and could be wake until 10pm or later then awake at 5.30. She was not a child that slept for 10-12 hours but got in her 7 and that was enough for her for then. But when she hit her teenage years she got the hang of sleeping and made up for it. She can now sleep from 10-10 if need be. She can get up at 7 if she needs to for work but her natural waking time is after 9 and probably nearer 10. My husband very rarely comes to bed with me. Preferring to be up and doing things till gone 11 but even on a working day is not up before 7,30 and when he can let his body clock rule him he will not rise till after 8.30.
So there maybe those super-heroes who try to survive on 4-5 hours sleep, and maybe they can do alright even if the studies say we all should sleep for more. There maybe those who try to pack lots into their day and so set alarms for earlier so they can do. Yes I do hear of writers who are advised to get up an hour earlier to fit in their writing around a busy schedule. I must say, even though I love to write in these early hours before the world begins, I do not think it wise to push for it unless your body clock works that way. I know it can be hard to fit in all that you want to do in a day but I think that often it is better to do less with quality than too much without that depth.
So maybe Joylon is correct in saying “lie in” but I think that is only true if those people are trying to fit too much into their day. I think “SLOW DOWN” would be a better shout. Cut out some of those things that fill your day. I worry now when I see children doing lots of after school classes and getting very little down time, very little time to just be bored. They maybe getting in their 8 hours plus sleep but they are not getting any down time in the either day.
So don’t criticise or praise those of us who get up early. Each of us needs to look to ourselves and work out what we really need to be doing with our day. Wisely doesn’t mean filling it full of “meaningful” things but making sure we all have that right ebb and flow of doing and just chilling out.