By Joseph Kellard
People ask me how I do it. I get out of bed to start my day at 5 a.m. I've been doing this for many years, and the root of my answer lies in the Olympics.
Yes, my biorhythms are also to blame. Since my youth I've been a deep sleeper, and that certainly plays into why I’m an early riser. When I was younger I used to need, at most, about eight hours of sleep a night, and most of my adult life I've been able to get by on six hours, and sometimes less.
I set my alarm at 4:20 a.m., and occasionally I wake up before the alarm sounds. I have it set to sports talk radio, and I often hit snooze intermittently throughout. Otherwise, I'll either catch more z's or run what I call “word salads” — word association-like, stream-of-consciousness-type sentences — thorough my head, with the sole purpose of seeing what words and phrases I can summon from my vocabulary bank. Once I toss the covers off me, though, I routinely head to my work desk to write or read on my MacBook, after which I drive to the gym, three to four days a week.
I started my early morning activities back during my early 20-something years, when I worked out with weights in my garage in the dark of morning. I was drawn to do this because it made me feel productive while most of America was still sleeping.
My inspiration came years earlier, when I was a kid watching the Olympics on television, specifically the features on athletes — the cross-country skiers, skaters or gymnasts who awoke before dawn to trek to the hills, ice rink or gym to train before heading to school or work. I found this incredibly inspiring.
I knew some night owls, with friends and relatives among them. They were the kind who never appeared to get sleepy while most of us watched late-night television with our eyes half shut from our couches. But they typically slept late the next morning, and that’s why being a night owl never appealed to me. Getting up earl always seemed to me like an accomplishment, something that required a certain effort, whereas staying up late just didn’t.
When I used to live with others, including night owls who watched TV late, getting up early in the morning was always the only opportunity to take advantage of some quiet in the house, which was a tremendous value when I needed to think, write or read. Today I live alone in a studio apartment in a home that almost seems hermetically sealed to sound. It’s too good to be true.
I continue covet the serenity of early morning, especially its contrast to the hustle and bustle of where I live in the suburbs of New York City, the city that never sleeps. And I make sure to wake up early each morning to capture it.