With the exception of athletes with consistent morning practice, the “a.m” time of day is one unfamiliar to numerous CMCers. It’s a time reserved for catching up on much needed sleep and ensuring rest and preparation for the day. Some have the added challenge of early morning classes (I’m a veteran of an 8:30 a.m. class Wednesday and Friday mornings, as well as a current combatant against a lack of sleep with 8 a.m. classes Monday, Wednesday and Friday). These early mornings, for many, are arduous and at times soul-sucking. I have tried waking up earlier than necessary (to have more time to prepare), later than I should (to be rushed and somehow also effective), or even ‘alarm-shaming,’ in which I set my iPhone alarm to an embarrassing song (Selena Gomez’s “Love You Like A Love Song” is a great example).
While these pains of waking up early are very real, and very constant, they have taught me something about mornings, especially at CMC. Being awake at 8:00, 7:00 or even 6:00 in the morning is in many ways very liberating. Sometimes it can mean a great first go at the offerings of each of the dining’s halls breakfasts. Other times, it can mean getting to experience a sunrise with a strong cup of coffee. In most cases, though, it means a little head start to your day, ahead of your roommate, classmates and fellow students. If you haven’t seen Poppa empty at 7 or 8 in the morning on a Friday, prepare yourself for something altogether eerie.
Another added value to waking up early is being able to witness the operational measures that go into making CMC as well run as does. Groundskeepers, gardeners, cooks and servers as well as faculty and administration often have to be up, at work and working hard, long before students alarms blare. While I never forget the degree to which these people work tirelessly to make the college run smoothly, it is a wonderful reminder to have in the morning.
Strategically, waking up early can mean sacrifices in terms of sleep and productivity. I have used waking up early to do homework or reading as a means of procrastinating (“Oh, this can wait until the morning…”). But if used correctly, waking up early can also boost your ability to get work done. Thanks to my Intro to Psych class, I now know that human sleep works in intervals of approximately an hour and half. If you’re woken up in the middle of one of these intervals, known as REM (rapid eye movment) or deep sleep, you’ll feel especially groggy and not nearly as ready to face the day. However, if you time your sleep in these intervals (plan to sleep for 3, 4 1/2, 6 or 7 1/2 hours, for instance), you can achieve the feeling of having had a restful sleep while also spending fewer hours asleep. In this way, you can aim to work a little less late, and wake up early to a bright morning as well as a few hundred pages of reading (or however you choose to spend the morning). A great iPhone app to help you achieve this equilibrium is Sleep Cycle. Not only will the app use your phone’s speakers to play the song or sound of your choice (think white noise and other natural sound like the ocean), it will wake you up in an interval of your choosing, from 10 to 90 minutes, sensing the vibrations of your movement when you’re least likely to be in deep sleep. It’s a huge help for getting started in an early morning lifestyle.
The strategic use of the morning, especially as a college student, can better prepare you for your classes, meetings and even the ever-looming real world that awaits outside of Claremont. By getting into the habit of early mornings, you better equip yourself with skills that aren’t always made clear in a Career Services presentation. So if you get the chance, set your alarm, get cozy and wake up early. I’ll see you in the morning!