Shouldn’t it be illegal to wake up at 4 a.m?

Fruit in hanging basket. (It's really not light outside...not yet...)

OK, it’s 4:34 a.m. now.

I have brewed a cup of coffee and laced it liberally with hazelnut creamer.

Posted my status on Facebook:  “Shouldn’t it be illegal to wake up at 4 a.m.?  Too many creative ideas brewing…”  (No, no, I haven’t posted my daily gratitude yet.  Let’s wait until the dawn breaks the horizon, at least.)

Barry has to wake up at 5 a.m. for an early morning at work, anyway. 

In recent years it seems like neither of us sleeps the whole night through in a regular fashion.  I go to bed between 9-10 p.m. on these deep winter nights and sometimes wander back up at 11 p.m. or 2 a.m. or 4 a.m.

He “hits the sack” much later–usually around midnight–but can often be found on the couch at all hours of the night.

He sometimes naps in the evening and gets up when I go to bed.

“We’re ‘hot bunking’ again,” I said to him last night as I went to bed and he rose.

He laughed.

Hot bunking is a practice common particularly in the naval armed forces and on submarines where several soldiers share the same bed. The bed is still warm from the prior user, hence the term hot bunking. When sleeping quarters are limited, as they especially are on submarines, and when staffing is required around the clock, soldiers both work and sleep in shifts. This could mean as many as three people share the same bunk on a submarine.

The nights I find it difficult to sleep are the nights when the creative mind starts its engines.  The Mind decides to write blogs–no, the Mind decides to write a book.  It actually starts writing the book.  Full sentences.  Plots.  Drama.  Action.

It’s so entertaining–at times–that sleep fades to a distant memory.  It can also be darn irritating.

“Will you shut up?” you request to the Creative Mind.  “You can do this in the morning.”

“It IS the morning,” says the Creative Mind brightly.  “It’s 4 a.m.!”

“7 a.m.,” you counter.  “Please.  Let’s sleep until 7 a.m.  Then you can have the whole day.”

The Creative Mind stops to consider and you doze off in the silence.

Suddenly the Creative Mind starts again…writing full sentences.  This time it’s about enlightenment and blogging. 

You open your eyes and stare at the ceiling, defeated.  This topic interests you. 

You drag your body from bed.  Wander downstairs to stoke the woodstove.  Turn on the gas burner to heat water.  Switch on the computer.

“Shouldn’t it be illegal to wake up at 4 a.m.?”  you wonder.

The Creative Mind just smiles.  It’s got you where it wants you–at the computer.

Anyone else up now??

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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37 Responses to Shouldn’t it be illegal to wake up at 4 a.m?

  1. Good morning, Kathy. 🙂 You and Barry must be keeping each other awake, with your ‘hot bunking’!
    It’s nearly 10pm here and I’m at my computer. Lately, I’ve been finding my Creative Mind is a bit of a night owl. I try to get to bed between 10.30 and midnight, although The Mind doesn’t always allow that to happen.
    If I go to bed earlier, without The Mind in action, I manage to create a new habit of waking early and yes, I can be up at 4am!
    Burning the candle at both ends doesn’t work long-term for me at all.
    Waking up at 11pm or 2am…now that’s definitely illegal!

    • Kathy says:

      I admire people who get up early–and who aren’t irritable and grouchy during the day because of lack of sleep. It’s interesting that your Creative Mind is a bit of a night owl. I like it when we can outsmart the Mind, don’t you?

  2. Dawn says:

    I do some of that too, though I have been blaming it on getting to be an old woman. Now I can blame it on my creativity! THANKS!

  3. flandrumhill says:

    Actually I’ve been up since 1:30am after going to bed before 7pm. Getting up at 4am is normal for me. Nobody ever tells you when you’re young that odd or broken sleep patterns are part of getting older.

    • Kathy says:

      You are one of my heroines, Amy-Lynn. I love it when people get up this early and feel happy. 1:30 a.m., though! You, my dear, deserve an award!

  4. Barbara Rodgers says:

    Enjoyed this post! Yep, when words start flowing there’s no help for it but get up and scribble them down – or type them up if there are too many of them. Happens at all odd hours. Just wish I could get it to stop happening in the shower! It happens to Tim, too, but with numbers (he’s a computer analyst) instead of words… We never know who is going to be sleeping or working, when or where. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      lol Barbara–does it happen to you in the shower? Maybe you should have a recorder nearby. Just turn it on before your shower…then you’ll be able to capture all the gems that bubble up. Glad to hear that Barry and I aren’t the only ones…

  5. photobyholly says:

    I have often been woken up by my mind racing – and it’s IMPOSSIBLE to stop it!! Of course, once I get out of bed, I usually lose what I’ve been thinking about…. sometimes it’s a good thing, sometimes it’s not… My little guy was convinced that he was done sleeping at 1:30 AM the other day!! We had to convince him that the moon light was NOT day light!!

    • Kathy says:

      Do you wonder, Holly, what time we would sleep if our natural rhythms took over? Like if we could somehow be perfectly happy waking up at 4 a.m.–or like your little one at 1:30 a.m.? Maybe we’re MEANT to be awake in moon light sometimes. Darn those Day Jobs.

  6. jeffstroud says:


    Too too funny! I have been trying to tell Riley my male golden retriever the 2:30, 3:30 or anytime in the wee hours is illegal to be awaken to go for a walk in below freezing temps… and north winds howling, but he won’t listen. I am not sure about my creative mind waking me up, yet I sounds like you have something to say and I think maybe your Muse is chattering because you have a “book” in you or some creative project you are to create together.

    I am not sure about the “hot bunking” doesn’t sound healthy to me… interesting fact though!
    Yes I read the whole blog this time. and my first thought was “she still had basket ball on the mind when she took this Photograph!

    Always a joy to read you!
    I am Love, Jeff

    • Kathy says:

      Have you been able to convince Riley, yet? Yikes, that is EARLY! Do you really have to go outside with him at those hours? I like your idea about the Muse chattering because of a new creative project. You may be right! As for hot bunking–we’ve been doing this for 30-some years of marriage, so at least it isn’t detrimental to long-term togetherness!

  7. Susan D says:

    I was up at 3:30 but managed to fall back asleep. Lucky me! I’ve been an insomniac since I can remember so am not able to guage whether waking at “illegal” hours is part of the aging process. Have heard that it is. I do know that I’ve always enjoyed feeling like I “own the world” while others snore. Take secret delight in knowing the phone won’t ring and no one will knock on the door. Writing, reading or staring at the mystery of a dark sky are common events. When I had a garden, I’d turn on the porch light and go water or just wander among the dewy plants. You, Kathy, will always put your waking to use, in most delightful creations, including this blog!

    • Kathy says:

      Hi Susan, my mom is similar to you. She wouldn’t know about “illegal” hours because that’s always been part of her experience. I like how you describe the secret midnight delight. How precious!

  8. holessence says:

    “It’s got you where it wants you — at the computer!” That made me laugh.

    I’m at at 4:20, but NOT at the computer. That’s my time for tai chi, then at 5:30 when Len gets up we’ve got time for a cuppa hot tea before we head out: warm weather means bicycle riding; cold weather means the fitness center. This morning it was definitely the fitness center.

    4am for writing? It’s not gonna happen…

    • Kathy says:

      Oh, Laurie, I love your morning routine. 4:20 for tai chi then 5:30 for tea, then exercise! Love it! I wait to start my routine after Barry leaves for work. 7:30 for meditation, 8:15 for yoga…

  9. P.j. grath says:

    You and Gerry were both up at 4 a.m., and I’m jealous. A person can get so much done in the early morning quiet. Somehow my early-waking whatever has not yet kicked in this winter….

    Must tell you a funny story about the term “hot bunking.” It was used in a county commission meeting here and reported to the local newspaper. When published, several readers took offense, unfamiliar with the term and thinking it a sexual innuendo.

    • Kathy says:

      Pamela, that is a funny story! I actually thought about titling this blog, “Barry and I’ve been hot-bunking lately” but thought maybe someone would take offense. lol! I wish it was possible to be productive at 4 a.m. Usually I just stare blankly at the wall and fuss that sleep isn’t happening.

  10. Shelly says:

    I was up at 4am and COULD not fall back to sleep, but I COULDN’T get up because then I would have had my cat thinking he was getting feed breakfast at 4am I DON’T think so. Please take a look at my blog it doesn’t matter if you comment or not, but it WILL explain why I was up at 4am this morning. If I’m nagging you about my blog just let my know. That Creative Mind can be a PAIN! I know so I can relate. 🙂 TRY ro sleep in tomorrow all the best with the sleep.

  11. Carol says:

    Why do creative minds always work the best in the wee hours? But like Shelly, I do not get up when it wakes me because then the dogs and the cats would think it was time to go out, to eat and to frolic. Bad enough they think it’s that time at 5:45. Sleep till 7? I have memories of that.

    • Shelly says:

      Awe yes the memories of sleeping pass 9am on a WEEKEND! For crying out loud the WEEKEND and I’m up at 7 or 8, not to mention that I’m woken up by the cat meowing to be feed. Gezz it’s like let me sleep. Like a creative mind wants to work it works when it’s ALL said and done we CAN relax an PROBABLY go back to bed, if we’re luck. If your like me once I’m up, I’m up and I CAN NOT fall back to sleep. Ca La Vive as they say.

    • Kathy says:

      5:45 sounds a little early to me, Carol! Do you frolic with them at that hour? Smiling…

  12. Lucienne(Alluvja) says:

    I posted this earlier as a reply to your FB post, so I thought it’d be kewl to post it here as well.

    Kathy you wont believe this but I swear it’s true: as I am typing this I hear voices from the tv that is still on in the living room, some Christion preacher, cant hear his story but just caught the words 4AM!!
    I’m not kidding, but listen no…w the story gets better: I think you’re simply tuned in cosmically in one way or another.My day/nite rhytm has been messed up for quite some time now and I’m up often at that time so earlier I replied to a post here from a dutch neighbour who woke up at well at that time and said: : “4AM is an underestimated time, why not have a cuppa soup in the dark” on which one of her friends posted this funny video pondering the 4am conspiracy 😉

    He gurl, something is happening and we got it going on LOL !!

    • Kathy says:

      Lucienne, the 4 a.m. conspiracy…funny! I like the idea of being tuned in cosmically. Although I’ve woken up at so many times other than 4 a.m… You know what, we should have skyped at that hour! I thought about going on skype, but decided that would wake Barry up and then there would be two of us staring at each other. lol! Thanks for sharing the video.

  13. barb says:

    Too cold to get out of bed here before daylight and sometimes I think it’s too cold AFTER daylight, too. One nice thing about a laptop computer is that you can put it on your lap to keep you warm – which is what I’m doing now, Kathy – hopefully, you have a laptop for those middle-of-the-night creative ventures – or your wood stove is close to the computer…

    • Kathy says:

      One thing I like about getting up in the middle of the night is the opportunity to stoke the woodstove. Then it’s not quite so cold in the morning. We actually have a big cozy white blanket we burrow under during these middle-of-the-night times.

  14. Robin says:

    I was up when you wrote this, but not at the computer. I was thinking, meditating, writing by hand, sipping tea, and wondering why I am waking up around 4am again. Back in my late 30’s and early 40’s, 4:00am got to be a habit. It’s how I got my email “name” (the “maidinsun” part — “maidin,” pronounced ma-jin as in imagine,is Irish Gaelic for “morning” and “sun” is, well, English for sun). I’d get online and chat with other early risers and we would compare sunrises, as the sunrise made its way to each place. It was a fun, yet peaceful kind of chat/activity. Anyhow, I would wake up at 4:00am every single day and that’s one of the ways I made the most of it. No point staying in bed if my mind (and body, it seemed) didn’t want to be there.

    At the time I read somewhere that 4:00am was the real “witching” hour (as opposed to midnight) as that is when women would have been more likely to be able to go out and about and hold ceremonies and such because they were expected to be up early to stoke the fire, cook breakfast, take care of the family.

    I hope you enjoyed your morning and that the muse was kind to you. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      This is so interesting, Robin. “maidinsun”. I love it…love the energy of early risers. How late do you stay awake at night? I agree with your point of not staying in bed if your mind/body doesn’t desire it. I have heard about this “witching” hour, too. It’s good to stoke the fire at this time. (And I did enjoy the morning! It was so novel to write this blog…)

      • Robin says:

        It depends. Most nights I’m in bed by 10:00pm but read for up to a half hour (or longer if the book is the kind I have trouble putting down) and I usually don’t get up until 5 or 6am. It’s only been the last week or two that the 4am wake-up has been occurring again. As long as I feel rested, I don’t worry too much about how many hours of sleep I put in. I generally let my body make the decision about when it’s time to go to bed and when it’s time to get up. Sometimes that means I am on a really strange schedule. That’s especially true after a visit to the west coast. Throws me way out of whack. And it’s well worth it too. 😀

        • Kathy says:

          I go wildly tired-crazy after traveling through time zones. Our next visit to San Diego comes in March…but being with Christopher and his fiance will make it worth it…

  15. Val Erde says:

    I understand this, Kathy. My mind has been overactive all my life, but it seems to like to doze off (with my body still awake, unfortunately) during the day when I need to be alert and doing things. I’m a night person, always have been, so when I go to bed I’m too wide awake and when I wake during the night, if I can’t get back to sleep really quickly, that’s that. (At my age it’s the call of the loo – bathroom – that gets me up so many times, but my awake and restless mind doesn’t help one little bit.) Ideas go through my head, mostly creative, some really stupid. If I can’t sleep at all, I’ll go into my room/studio, sit by the fan heater (I’m nearly always cold during the night) where I keep a pad of plain paper and a pen, and I just jot down whatever runs through my mind.

    • Kathy says:

      Val, OK, I’ve always admired night people too. Those who can stay up in the night hours and feel enlivened by them. As for the loo (even though we don’t call it that over here in the states) I know what you mean. It certainly does call us more frequently as we get older. I think. I love that we’re creative at all hours.

  16. john says:

    Hooray for the Creative Mind!

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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