The past six years or so of erratic sleep schedules have taught me one important thing: I should never voluntarily get up before 5 a.m.*
Perhaps this sounds like an obvious thing to you. Perhaps you do not have as many small children as I do.
See, what happens is, the current baby will awaken me at something like 4 a.m., right? So I go in to nurse him, and I get back to my bed at 4:15 a.m. But then I'm pretty awake, because that's close to my wake-up time, and my brain starts running, thinking about the things I have to do and how long until the older kids are awake and if I need to shower before they get up and on and on and on . . . and then it's 4:45 a.m.
At a time like that, I think, "Well, hell. I should just get up and get going. At least I'll have some time before other kids get up."
NO. WARNINGWARNINGWARNING. DO NOT GET UP.
This is what I tell myself. Even if I can't get back to sleep, I should not physically haul myself out of bed. It inevitably results in exhaustion by about 5:30 a.m. Staying in bed, if not actually sleeping, until at least 5 a.m. is the right thing to do.
A. got up at 4:30 this morning to go check his traps before work. The warning bells in my head rang and I prepared to stay in bed, but then I was hearing this faint mechanical noise from the cellar and I started worrying it was the water pump not shutting off (which can happen if something like a toilet is continuously running water and that can burn the water pump right up if it continues running too long), so I got up to check. And stayed up.
It's 5:52 a.m. Know how I feel right now?
Yup. Exhausted. Never fails.
* The only exception to this is if I've had a fully uninterrupted night of sleep and have actually slept straight through from 9 p.m. until 4:30 a.m. or something. But since this happens literally never lately, the rule always applies.