Thank God I’m alive.
Thank God I live in a safe neighbourhood.
Thank God I live in a cul-de-sac.
Thank God I wake up at freaking 4 a.m.
So, I wake up at 4 a.m., as usual, I think I should lie-in today but I don’t, I start walking downstairs for my daily two glasses of warm water with lemon – I’ve been doing that for years.
After the first step down I realise something is not right; wait, is the front door open? Like wide open? What the hell?
“Harry, our front door is open!” I shout, my heart already racing, flight or flee hormones already on overdrive.
“What?” Harry jumps out of bed and we check the house.
We know our most precious cargo, the baby, is safe because his cot is in our room.
I switch the living room light on and we take stock.
Keys to Mercedes 1? Check.
Keys to Mercedes 2? Check.
Computer? Laptop? Check and check.
We check that there are no intruders in the house. There aren’t.
I obviously tell Harry off for not checking the front door was closed properly before I proceed to drink my water.
My heart is still racing.
If this had been Malawi, we would have been done for.
Indeed, even in England most thieves are opportunists, they see an open door, they go for it. I bet most rapists are opportunists too, the sick b*stards.
Anyhow, as I’m sitting in my morning spot chomping on my Caesar salad I decide today is the day I’ll write the blog about why I wake up at 4 a.m. and when it started.
Back in high school you could not have paid me enough to wake up before 6 a.m.
I tried the whole wake up at 5 a.m. and go to a classroom to study fad that was going on back then and I couldn’t hack it. It wasn’t for me.
I slept superbly well back then. Once I hit the pillow, I was gone until morning – no toilet visits.
Things changed at some point in my mid-twenties.
Once I get up to use the loo, at 4 a.m.–ish, I frequently just lie there and can’t go back to sleep. Sometimes I’m up at 4 even when I don’t need to visit the loo.
The real turning point was when I was pregnant with Chester.
When I woke up at 4 a.m. I was so solidly awake that I definitely wouldn’t be able to return to bed. I decided to just embrace it and work. By 8/9 a.m. I’d be tired enough to sleep again.
I got so much done during my pregnancy that everyone on a business program I was going through kept asking, how do you do it?
I got so many questions and remarks that I wrote this blog: Productivity - How To Do More In One Day Than Most People Do In A Week!
Giving birth put paid to that productivity.
My sleep cycle then became dictated by Chester and I forgot all about it.
He started sleeping through the night at about 12 months but I remained perpetually exhausted because breastfeeding really saps the energy out of you.
It wasn’t until two months after he quit breastfeeding that I realized I keep on waking up at 4 a.m. (again) regardless of what time I go to bed.
You know what I’ve been doing each time I wake up?
I peruse Facebook – only clicking away when I scroll past an interesting news headline.
I didn’t feel good about it; not at all.
As far as I’m concerned excessive news reading is not only a waste of time, it’s how people shy away from work nowadays. They convince themselves they’re keeping up with current affairs. Meh.
Most of the news you read won’t affect your life in any way shape or form. It’s not productive at all.
Most days I don’t pick up a newspaper or visit a news site but a cursory scroll down my Facebook page tells me everything I need to know about world events and most of my friends’ lives. BBC Radio 4 and LBC (the only non-Music radio stations I listen to in my car) simply flesh out what I already learnt on Facebook.
One Sunday evening I made a decision to stop complaining about my “insomnia” and just wake up at 4 a.m.
I needed to turn what seemed like a curse into a blessing.
I now go to bed at 9 p.m. and I rise at 4 a.m. I also have a 30 to 45 minute nap in the afternoon.
Once I’ve done it 3 or 4 times in a week it’s easier to have a lie-in without involuntarily waking up at that time.
Don’t get me wrong: If I had a job that required me to be up at 4 a.m. I’d hate it. The only reason 4 a.m. feels so good is because it’s my choice to rise at that time and not someone else’s.
It was awful when I had a regular job because I’d wake up at 4 a.m., toss and turn for two hours then my alarm clock would go off just as I was nodding off. I often went to work absolutely exhausted because of my weird circadian rhythm.
It’s much easier to embrace when you have a flexible work pattern as I do now.
Waking up well before everyone else gives me a sense of such peace and control.
As it’s summer, as soon as I done drinking my warm water I walk up to our loft room, set the French doors wide open and let the world outside in: the air, the sounds and the breeze.
I see the sun rise. I think. I write. I work.
Mornings allow one proper “me time”.
Before the kids rise and the whatsapps start coming through I get to do exactly what I want.
I used to think 4 a.m. was a super weird time to wake up but when Grant Cardone said he does it too, it normalized it for me and today it may well have saved my life!
Ms. Katsonga on Wealth
Heather Katsonga-Woodward: On Business, Life & Everything In-Between