When entering early retirement there were a few things I wasn’t expecting myself to keep doing after escaping the restrictions imposed by having over 50% of your waking life dictated. One of those was waking up early.
I am about as far from a morning person as possible. I love the feeling of staying up late and hate the feeling of waking up after a (un)restful sleep. Typically it isn’t until 2 or so hours after I wake up when I am finally acclimated to the world and ready to move on with my day. Yet, I still continue to wake up at a time that’s earlier than my previous alarm time when I was working! This is because of a few factors I noticed after liberating myself from a regular work schedule.
First, I’ve realized the reason why waking up for work is unpleasant is because: 1, You typically didn’t get enough sleep due to stress or trying to fit in other things into your life you don’t have time for. 2, You have to rush out the door to be on time. Once you remove these two conditions to waking up early it’s just as pleasant as sleeping in. Perhaps it is more agreeable since then you have a full day to get anything you want done.
The biggest problem I had with working a full time job (40+ hours) is how it controlled your time and in effect your life. Not having the time to do the things you want in life can be terribly stressful. There are countless days I can remember when I was working where I would wake up and see it was a beautiful, perfect for spending the daytime hours hiking or bike riding, then realize I wouldn’t be outside again until well after dark. I trudged through those days only with the hope that someday I would be free.
Now that 100% of my time belongs to me I have no problem falling asleep at a reasonable hour and waking up just after dawn. Instead of disparaging sleep for replacing my free time with something I rarely remember, I embrace it as a part of life. And when your time is yours it doesn’t matter what time you wake up or go to sleep. I find it easier to wake up earlier because then I can get more things done during the day and do things with other people who also rise early. That unpleasant morning feeling happens no matter when I wake up, so might as well get it over with early in the day.
Another affect of early retirement is how much easier it is to fall asleep and stay asleep. When there is nothing unpleasant you need to wake up early to do, your mind rests easy and sleep comes hard and naturally. For me, that simple realization that my time is mine liberates my sleep in ways I never imagined. Few doctors would ever prescribe early retirement to improve your anxiety and sleep, but in truth, it was all I ever needed.