The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Opinion & Letters to the Editor

July 8, 2014

It’s becoming harder and harder to maintain my night owl status

Sunday, July 8, 2014 — They say you’re only as old as you feel.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m just 23. Other times, I feel like I’m 123.

It’s not that my body is breaking down, but I do notice a few crinks, creaks and other uncontrolled noises coming from it (don’t go THERE).

One area I’m starting to get concerned with is how late I’m able to stay up without falling asleep. It’s starting to become a harder task than ever before.

My other job requires me to work until between 2-4 a.m. on most days. Sometimes, I get to leave a little earlier, a lot of times it’s later. Especially during football season when burning the midnight oil turns into the task of trying to get home before Hoda and Kathie Lee Gifford start their session on “Today” (which, if you don’t know, is at 10 a.m.).

I’ve always been a night owl for as long as I can remember. I would sneak into the living room and watch the monologue Johnny Carson gave each night when he was running “The Tonight Show.” When hurricanes would blow into eastern North Carolina or surrounding regions near where I grew up, I’d stay up all night to watch the news and weather.

I recall vividly watching as Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston, South Carolina, and eventually came into this area and especially in Charlotte. I was glued to the TV so much that it didn’t even bother me that I got very little sleep.

I did this countless times when I was young, from presidential elections to when Ronald Reagan was shot, the day the plane crashed into the freezing Potomac River in D.C. and numerous other times.

When the Oklahoma City bombing happened, I was up all night. Same for when the Columbine shooting took place and countless other times.

When my other job once required me to stay until as late as 8 a.m., I found it to be no problem. I even got a stuffed owl as a present from my boss one Christmas, signifying I was a night owl.

It’s also easy for me to wake up a friend of mine each morning around 3 because he has to work at a radio station in Raleigh. I’ve also found myself doing this for some of his relatives as well as other people who know I’ve done this in the past.

So, it’s suffice to say staying up late has never been a problem.

Same goes with sleep, or the lack thereof. Sleep has never been a hard thing for me to achieve. I’ve told people I can sleep through a tornado-filled hurricane and never know what happened when I wake up.

Typically, I don’t need a lot of sleep either. Most Sundays I come home very late from my other job. I get between 2-3 hours of sleep and make a long drive to Charlotte for church. I’ll come home, maybe get 2-3 hours more of sleep and then work again until well after the sun rises in the morning.

Nowadays, I find myself succumbing to sleep easier than ever before. And it’s really concerning me, if only because it cuts into the 45 or so minutes a day I have to myself, when I’m not working or driving all over the place the other 23 hours and 15 minutes.

I can sit down on my couch to watch TV or go on the Internet with good intentions of going to the local YMCA to swim promptly at 5:30 a.m.. Instead, before I know it, it’s 11 a.m. and I’ve been out like a light for seven hours.

My dad can sleep in his recliner better than he can his own bed. I used to be able to say the same thing about my couch, but now I at least make a point of getting up and going to sleep on my bed for the other hour or so. Unless I just decide to get up.

Point is, somewhere along the way, I became so old that I can’t even stay awake anymore when I want. I’m slowly becoming that old guy in the movies who will end a sentence with the words zzzzzzzz.

In essence, I’m becoming my father, who can hit the recliner to watch TV or a movie and be out before the credits even start rolling.

I feel like when this happens, it totally ruins my routine. I find myself lagging behind and struggling to get my day started.

I always tell myself when I get little sleep that the first thing I’m going to do is go straight to bed when I get home. Then I realize I’ve got 23 requests to play Words With Friends or there’s an episode of “The Five” I just have to watch.

I mean, come on, I do have priorities.

I recently read about how those in the know believe in the benefits of drinking coffee before you exercise. Many people, including myself, believed coffee kept you awake and could mess with your sleep progress. In truth, I’ve never had a problem drinking a pot of coffee then going straight to bed.

But the study I read says coffee has several positive effects before exercising. And since I’m doing a lot of swimming lately to lose pounds, the study made me pay attention, if for no other reason than the fact I could use it to my benefit to stay awake to actually get to exercise.

Plus, it gives me a great excuse to stop at McDonald’s for a medium mocha frappe with no whipped creme (it doesn’t say whether this study works with cold coffee ... or as I like to call it a caffeine milkshake. But let’s chalk it up to the power of positive thinking, if nothing else).

It said drinking coffee improves circulation, leads to less pain when exercising, promotes better memory, gives you more muscle preservation and provides more muscle fuel.

Now for all I know, that may just be the coffee talking. These are the same people that will tell you something like how eggs are good for you one week, only to come back the next and say eggs will cause you to lose all movement in your entire body.

In the meantime, I’m gonna enjoy that mocha frappe just because I know it won’t be the 400 calories I’m thinking about but the benefits it will help me when exercising.

That is unless I fall asleep watching an episode of “Sanford & Son.” Priorities, Elizabeth. Priorities.

To submit story ideas, contact Jason O. Boyd at jason@stanlynewspress.com or (704) 982-2121 ext. 21.

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