The temptation at retirement is to think ‘I’m free, I can get up whenever I want’ but in reality your body would rather stick to a routine
Being a lark rather than a night owl can bring its own rewards in retirement and later life
Getting up early is a habit that many people cultivate through choice – and not just because they like to get a head start on the working day. Being a lark rather than a night owl can bring its own rewards in retirement too.
Best part of the day?
John Burgess, a retired personnel director, gets up earlier now than he ever did when he was still working. “For me, it’s the best part of the day,” he explains. “I naturally wake at 5am and rather than lie in bed, I get up and watch the sun come up.
“I particularly enjoy the silence of that time and the ability it gives me to think without distraction. I can ponder all sorts of matters, from so many different angles, because my thoughts are clearer at that time than any other part of the day.
“It’s also a wonderful time to read. Again, the silence allows me to let my imagination run with the words on the page.”
John, 72, from Cheshire, also enjoys going on the internet early in the morning – catching up on social media and the steam railway forums he posts on. “I do it then, so that the rest of my day is free to get out and about with my wife.”
Routine is important
After decades of having to get up with an alarm clock, some might wonder why John wasn’t tempted to enjoy lying in now that he is retired.
But according to independent sleep expert Dr Neil Stanley, sticking with a sleep routine is important if you want to feel alert and energized on waking.
“The temptation is to think ‘I’m free, I can get up whenever I want’ but you need to remember that the body loves regularity – it has a natural rhythm and likes to know that it will be waking up at roughly the same time every day.
“If you stick to a routine then when you get up your body will have already started producing the hormones it needs so that you wake feeling refreshed and alert.”
Waking early is a common phenomenon in older people, and this doesn’t need to be considered a bad thing. As we age, our sleep becomes progressively lighter and it can be harder to get back to sleep after waking early.
“This is perfectly natural and doesn’t need to be a problem,” insists Dr Stanley. “Rather than lying there worrying about not being able to get back to sleep, there’s a lot to be said for simply getting up and seizing the day.
“And the great thing about retirement is that if you need to nap in the afternoon, and that doesn’t prevent you sleeping at night, then what’s to stop you? It can also help you get even more out of your day.”