Not-A-Zombie Filter
April 3, 2009 9:42 AM   Subscribe

I am a morning person. Please help me be less of a zombie between the hours of 8-11pm.

I am a 25-year-old male graduate student. My current daily schedule looks something like:

6:30 - wake up.
7:00 - 8:30 commute (I ride public transit; my location can't be changed).
8:30- 18:00 20 oz latte, followed by work, class, etc
18:00 - 19:30 commute
19:30 - 23:00 varies depending on workload -- more work, or R&R.

By about 21:00, I am pretty lethargic. My question is thus: Can anyone recommend any strategies to help me be more awake/alert between 8pm and 11pm? My girlfriend (who I've lived with for about 5 months) is a night person, and it frustrates both of us when she's raring to talk/cuddle/watch movies/etc and I'm doing a fair impression of a zombie and/or inanimate object. I'm particularly bad if we watch movies/TV at home (they put me right to sleep, it seems), so ideas for not zoning out/sleeping after that are particularly useful.

I need to get 6-7 hours of sleep to function, and I can't change that I need to wake up around 6-6:30 AM and commute, but I'm interested to find lifestyle changes (diet? some kind of exercise? etc) that might help me be more wakeful.
posted by Alterscape to Health & Fitness (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What about going for a night time walk?
It's simple, requires no extra equipment, you can be read in minutes, invigorating, you get exercise, burn calories, feel better, have uninterrupted quality time to talk about whatever or listen to your ipods and hold hands and just be together, which is what she/you want to begin with.

You'll sleep better, deeper and probably wake up with more energy.

You may feel zombie-like when you first start, but after the first 10-15 minutes, you'll feel brilliant.
posted by willmize at 9:48 AM on April 3, 2009

If you have to wake up at 6:30, I would say you're pretty much out of luck here. The problem isn't that you're a morning person and your girlfriend is a night person: The problem is that you have different schedules and by the time she's down with spending time, you're the living dead.

Can you reschedule your work or take different classes next semester so you don't have to get up at such an obscene hour? Can you get a less action-packed schedule? I wish you the best of luck- I just think what's at fault here is your awful schedule, and there probably isn't much you can do besides naps.
posted by dunkadunc at 9:52 AM on April 3, 2009

Response by poster: To clarify, she wakes up at 6:30 too. She can just live on less sleep than I do, I think. Even in the heat of grad school, I can't be productive on less than six hours of sleep; her pre-me schedule routinely involved going to bed after 1am and waking up at 6:00am. It may be a physiological difference, but I'd still like to try and cope with it more effectively...
posted by Alterscape at 9:56 AM on April 3, 2009

Seconding willmize. Someone told me once that couples that go for walks together seem to stay together, and I think there's some truth to that.
posted by txvtchick at 9:56 AM on April 3, 2009

I'm a morning person also and had the same problem with my husband, who is a night person like your girlfriend. Things changed dramatically for the better when I switched him to green tea instead of his morning jolt of espresso. It took about a month for him to find a brand that he liked, but after that it's been smooth sailing. He's not a bundle of energy in the evenings -- he doesn't want to join me for a run, for example, but he loves taking a bike ride or a walk and he never falls asleep during movies anymore. Another thing: he takes a half hour nap during lunch on his workdays, which also really helps. Weekends he has normal hours and doesn't need a nap.

Good luck.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:02 AM on April 3, 2009

Don't try to keep up with her by depriving yourself of sleep; you'll be fighting a losing battle. Some people just need more sleep than others. If she's giving you a hard time about that, she needs to learn to be more understanding and adapt her schedule to yours.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 10:09 AM on April 3, 2009

Have you tried going to bed an hour earlier? In effect trading quantity for quality? You'll "lose" an hour in the evenings, but maybe the few you have remaining will be more useful because you're more rested.
posted by dyobmit at 10:09 AM on April 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Get more exercise?
posted by BobbyDigital at 10:11 AM on April 3, 2009

3 hours is a lot of daily transit. Can you nap?
posted by rokusan at 10:16 AM on April 3, 2009

Exercising usually wakes you up for a few hours and then makes you tired, so maybe try exercising (walking, as some suggested, or something more strenuous) at around 8:00 p.m.?

Also, is it that you're trying to stay up past 11:00, or that you'd like to feel more alert from 9-11? If you're thinking you're going to feel good on less than 7 hours' sleep, that's expecting a lot of yourself. I'd say that's even more set in stone than the commute and the wake time.
posted by palliser at 10:42 AM on April 3, 2009

I think the exercise suggestion isn't about the temporary lift from the exercise itself, but in general I've always been able to get by on less sleep, and in general have more energy through the course of the day when exercising regularly.
posted by bitdamaged at 11:13 AM on April 3, 2009

Response by poster: To clarify, I know there is no way I can stay up past 11, but I'd like to be more awake and alert when I'm home in the evenings, so that I'm better company and more productive when I need to be. Thank you all for the advice!
posted by Alterscape at 11:49 AM on April 3, 2009

Drink orange juice with dinner! Trust me!
posted by Baby_Balrog at 11:54 AM on April 3, 2009

How about a quick nap, maybe 15-20 minutes?
posted by amtho at 1:12 PM on April 3, 2009

I can't get by on 6-7 hours of sleep for very long; I need 8. I would suggest you're in the same boat. A nap somewhere in the day might help, and so might some exercise. But what would you do if you knew you had no choice -- you had to have 8 hours' sleep? You might want to start doing that now.
posted by argybarg at 5:34 PM on April 3, 2009

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