Sunday, January 8, 2023

Random Thoughts at 3 AM

We have a joke in my extended family that most of us have a “Rooster Gene. It is that one thing we inherited from our grandpa that gets us up at 5 AM sharp every morning without ever setting an alarm. While it is a useful tool to pull out of the genetic toolbox, there are times when it could better be kept in the toolbox, or better yet left out of the toolbox and misplaced somewhere in the garage with the other tools that randomly disappear.

It has always served me well when the kids were little and got up at 6 or 7 every morning. I would be up and ready to dive into their day with them. And when I worked the day shift in nursing, I could walk in all ready for whatever catastrophe awaited. I had already a few hours under my belt as patients were just coming to life. 

While, when I was younger, it never mattered what time I went to sleep at night, that rooster gene would be crowing in my head at 5 AM telling me it was time to face the day. And for the most part I could rise to the occasion and not drag around too much from lack of sleep from going to bed really late. 

But fast forward to life in my 60’s. I always thought that with retirement would come sleeping more than the 6 hours I am used to. I figured I could go to bed later and wake up later in the mornings. But after 3 years of retirement not much has changed in my rooster gene genetics. 6 hours is still the most I can sleep. If I were to sleep longer than that, I can only hope my Best Half would check in on me to make sure I was still breathing. 

Lately, I find myself going to bed later and by the time I quiet the ear chirping by listening to some music or an audio book, it is well close to midnight or sometimes later. And as I am drifting off to sleep I think to myself, I can sleep in and get up whenever I want in the morning. Afterall, I’m retired and have no early morning plans. And then it happens.

After sleeping soundly for about 3 or 4 hours, I will partially wake up and random thoughts and plans for the upcoming day will pop into my brain. Things like…Do I need to fill the bird feeders when I get up…how can I keep the squirrels from hanging on the bird feeders upside down…they need to eat too,,,I should make them a feeder…I probably should make out the grocery list for the upcoming couple of weeks…and my constant thought at that hour in the middle of night…Max really needs a bath and needs to be clipped and I need to remember to plug in the rechargeable dog clippers.

As I lie there, my list of what to do with the upcoming day grows. And pretty soon I am looking at the clock regretting being awake at this ungodly hour. Should I try and fall back asleep for 2 or 3 more hours or should I just not fight it and get up and do stuff around the house that is getting put on my mental list? Filling bird feeders in the darkness doesn’t seem like a good idea though.

 Usually I try to close my eyes and fall back asleep until 5 AM. And usually it will work. I will sleep another few hours and wake up almost ready to greet the day. I do have to say it is hard to get out of bed when it is still dark outside and the house is cold because we turned the furnace down to 62 degrees for sleeping. But then the old saying from the nuns from my days in Catholic schools blasts through my brain…”Idle hands are the devil’s workshop”. Yikes, I’m up, dressed and ready to face the day. Thank you Sister Francis Therese.

Once out of bed, I will do a few things around the house. Things like empty the dishwasher, straighten up the family room and my favorite…rewind a ball of yarn from Max’s overnight wrestling match with it. I swear that canine has some cat in his DNA. Once those things are done, I will eat breakfast and face the day ahead. And 9 times out of 10, it will not consist of accomplishing the things that were on my mental list during the sleepless night. I discover more than enough other things I need to get done. Whoever said retirement is a time for extra time on their hands was wrong. Since being retired my days are full of endless things to get done. And yes some of them are even fun things. But I don’t think there has been any extra hours in the day since retiring. I really don’t know how we found enough time in the day when we were working jobs along with the other life things needed to get done. 

I often wonder what it is like to not have that rooster gene flowing through the bloodlines? What would it be like to sleep a constant 8 hours each night? To dream dreams and not wake up and make mental lists of things to get done? How would it feel to get up at 8 or 9 AM instead of 5AM? I know there are people who do that, my Best Half can be one of them at times. But he has acquired the roster gene by default being married into this family. I may never know and I guess I am ok with that.

For those who can sleep all night and even sleep 8 hours at a time, what is the trick or secret? Feel free to message me any time of the day or night. I will probably get back to you at whatever time of day or night it is. Sweet dreams everyone.

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