The importance of letting your body tell you when it’s had enough sleep.

Sometimes you don’t really know how much you miss something until it’s gone.

For me, I’ve missed the ability to wake up naturally. And guess who stole that ability from me? Both my babies, but especially my last child, my son. He has not been a good sleeper for most of his 2 years. In particular, for the first 20 months or so he would wake up between 5–5:30am. I joked at the inhumanity and indecency of being alive at that hour. Despite my valiant efforts, I was never truly able to recover from waking that early. I would almost always need a nap to get through my day, and even then, I still might not really feel “well” that day.

How do other people do it? I don’t know, but it’s not good for my body rhythm.

For the last couple weeks, I’ve finally begun to sleep in just a little longer now that my son is more self-sufficient. He can get himself out of his crib and entertain himself for a little bit. I can hear that he is awake as no amount of effort will turn off my “mom ears,” but I am afforded a much more gradual waking process.

I can wake slowly. Stretch. Lay there in bed with my eyes closed, letting my thoughts drift as they please. Those moments are so precious to me. I’d actually forgotten how much I needed them. It makes such a huge difference in how I feel throughout the day when I am able to awake on my own terms, as opposed to ripping myself out of bed to attend to a screaming baby.

I first realized the benefits of waking up naturally when I was doing my MBA. Due to my anxiety and panic attacks, I decided quit my full-time job, electing to work part time for my husband’s company. Because I didn’t have to be at work at a particular time, I stopped setting an alarm. I was a little worried that I would oversleep, but I actually didn’t. And waking up on my own helped me to feel the best I’ve felt in my entire adult life.

I believe being woken up by anything other than your own body is a potential disturbance to your sleep cycles. I found that I was getting very good sleep in the early morning hours, between 5–8am. I slept deeply and had intense dreams during these hours. I woke up after these sleep cycles feeling refreshed and well rested. My mind was clear and my energy was optimal.

I had to start setting an alarm again when I got a job after I completed my Masters program. As long as I went to bed at a decent hour, this didn’t pose that much of a struggle. But, I was fortunate to be able to carry on this habit when my company allowed me to work from home after two years of working in the office. Again, this contrast allowed me to see how much better I felt by eliminating the alarm clock. Under this setup, I did still need to set my alarm just in case I didn’t wake up on time to be online by 9am. But it was very rare that I would not be up before I heard the familiar tones.

Very recently, my children are my alarms. I was spoiled by my daughter who would play quietly and wait for me to wake up beginning at around 1 year. I am truly grateful that my son is finally entering this stage as well. Waking up naturally makes such a positive impact on how I feel and my outlook on the day.

Do you allow yourself to wake naturally? Do you notice a difference in your day when you are able to do so?

Originally published at on January 31, 2017.

Originally published at