Wake Up Happy with Narcolepsy

I’m a morning person, so I wake up happy every day. And I have had narcolepsy most of my life, if not all of it. When I tell people my best hours are first thing in the morning and I’d be happy to meet them online at 7am my time, they seem baffled. How can a person with narcolepsy also be a morning person? And how does anyone wake up happy?

Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

For a long time I thought I wasn’t a morning person and I definitely wasn’t a night person? Could I be an afternoon person? But the afternoons are best for naps! How could I find a part of my day that was really my best time when I felt tethered to sleep? Well it wasn’t easy and it took me many years.

Deciding to Wake up Happy

To be honest, it came down to making the decision. At some point, I realized that when I was forced to wake up in the morning, it was my most productive, focused time. Even when I was waking up an hour before I needed to start working, I was likely to start the laundry, load the dishwasher, and other productive things first thing in the morning. In the evening, those things were highly unlikely. If I want to be successful, I have to harness that morning time to make progress in my life, including in my business. It wasn’t as if one day I could just wake up happy.

woman waking up happy
Photo by Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

Being a morning person is a mindset and an identity. Just like night owls believe they work best at night, I just know that in the morning I’m going to do well because I set myself up for success. I get things done first thing in the morning. The best feeling is when it’s 10 am and I already feel a sense of accomplishment. That feeling energizes me to continue. Going to bed the night before knowing that I will wake up happy and ready to take on the day feels amazing.

What’s the Morning Routine?

Here is what I do when I wake up.

Get Up

This may sound basic but the FIRST TIME I wake up in the morning, I get up. It doesn’t matter if it’s time for my alarm or not. This is because I know the sleep I get when I allow myself to fall back asleep is not quality sleep. It’s a complete waste of time, and when my alarm goes off, I’ll likely be in the middle of a sleep cycle.

Waking up in the middle of a sleep cycle is like trying to stop peeing mid-stream. It is possible, but it’s uncomfortable, unnatural, and the body is going to fight for hours to get me back into that sleep cycle because it wasn’t finished. So I wake up happy to have the extra time if it’s before my alarm, or happy to have slept to my maximum potential if the alarm goes off. Either way, I wake up happy.

Drink Water

I keep a glass of water by my bed. But that’s just a trigger to get me to get started drinking water. I drink at least a liter of water before I start my day. We all know hydration is important, its like the oil that goes in your car. I wouldn’t drive car without oil, so why would I start my day without water. My brain needs it, but so does the rest of my body.

Get Grounded

Often while drinking my water I notice my shaky hands or a sense of discomfort in my head and I remember to ground. Grounding is like calling all my energy back into my physical body; it’s telling my soul to get back inside its container so it can have an effective day. Grounding improves my life both physically and mentally.

Express Gratitude

I take a moment to really feel my body and express gratitude for it. It’s easy to focus on all the things our bodies struggle with, but think of all the things they do amazingly well without us even asking them to! I am so thankful for my breath, my digestion, my skin, the magical way my muscles move when I tell them to, the way my eyes, ears, and nose continuously take in data and tell me what I’m experiencing. Gratitude and this focus on the things that come to me easily help propel me into the day with ease.

Set an intention

Setting an intention for the day is like setting your GPS destination before you go out into an unknown area. It gives your mind a direction to go. You will still wander and get turned around, but it provides some general guidance for your mind. My intention varies but is often something from the reiki principles like, “Just for today I will be grateful for all that I have.”

Why do I wake up happy?

These are the most important elements of my morning routine that set me up to wake up happy and have a phenomenal day. You may notice none of them take much time, and things like exercise and meditation are not on the list. I do exercise but I know that while morning is scientifically the best time to exercise, it is MY best time for mind work so I honor my own body.

Meditation Helps me Wake up Happy

Meditation becomes a part of my morning routine when my mind is moving too fast to settle down and get productive. Today I did a 10-minute meditation before writing this post because my mind was giving me 20 different ideas on what to write.

If I don’t use meditation to get my morning started, I use it for a break later in the day. Meditation is a powerful tool for living with narcolepsy. I especially like it for falling asleep at night. I can use meditation to set my intention to wake up happy and feeling productive, even if I have had an emotional day. It helps me set the thermostat for what I expect the next day and stops me from having multiple days in a row that are less than desirable. In order to set yourself up for a happy morning, it’s best to start the night before!

How to Set Yourself Up for Success

Follow Good Sleep Hygiene

This is the most obvious one that you have probably been told by your doctor but it’s real.

Set Your Intention

Set your intention for good sleep, and a good morning before you go to bed. Don’t wait to see how it turns out, decide!

Take Time To Relax and Disconnect

You are not a machine with an “off” button. Before you get into bed, have a routine that helps you relax and prepares your mind for sleep. Disconnect from work, social life, TV, and games before bed. Create a clear signal for your brain that its time to sleep.

Make a Place for the Mind Clutter

Brain dump whatever is running around in your head. Make a list, journal, set up all the things you are reminding yourself about for the next day, just do it so your mind can be clear and you cal allow yourself to sleep.

Use Your Breath

Your breath is the most basic tool you have at your disposal all the time. Practice slowing down your breath to help you relax before sleep. Instead of counting sheep, I count on the in-breath, then count one number higher on the out-breath. Each round I increase in number so it looks like this.
– 5 in
– 6 out
– 6 in
– 7 out
– 7 in
– 8 out
I keep going to see how high I can get and I generally fall asleep around 10. You can try this at nap time too!

Get the Timing Right

Make sure you are giving yourself enough time to sleep, and going to bed at the optimal time for you! It’s difficult to wake up happy if you aren’t getting enough sleep. If you know you need 8 hours, and have to be up at 6, don’t wait until midnight to start relaxing! Once we are overtired, it’s harder for us to self-regulate and relax into sleep. You have seen toddlers at this stage, treat yourself like a toddler and get your rest before it’s too late!

Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

I hope these tips are helpful for you! Of course, my routine to wake up happy is not going to be the same as your routine. I’d love to hear what works for you!

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