Get up, or go back to sleep?

I often find I have this conundrum, oftentimes because my cat tends to wake me up at silly o’clock to be let out; either I return to my bed like a pissed off zombie and pass back out or I find myself fully awake even though the time on the clock, and the lack of sunlight, says I shouldn’t be. Or sometimes I’m halfway between these two states with an alert mind and a body that doesn’t want to know.

This morning was such a morning. My cat woke me up at 5am to be let. Sometimes I’m strangely cheerful about this, which is the best way to be; he’s good to ask with his meow outside my bedroom door rather than crapping on my carpet somewhere, but other times I’m ratty about it, like I’m still out of it as I stagger down the stairs, and maybe he’s reluctant to exit the building when I open the window or door for him (perhaps it’s pissing it down with rain; who could blame him?) Anyway, this morning I was a little ratty with him which, as I climbed back up the stairs to my room I considered, while I pondered how awake I was, if it was because I did too much yesterday and was still in need of some more sleep.

I somewhat reluctantly crawled back into bed and wondered if perhaps I was awake enough to do something productive or if I should just snuggle back down and try to recall what it was I was dreaming about before returning to the land of nod. Having my cat wake me tends to disturb me so much so that I forget what it was I was dreaming about and that is a point of annoyance for me.

I started to recall what it was I was dreaming about, and so, after writing that down, I turned off my light and proceeded to try and go back to sleep. At least, that was my plan. But I became restless and thoughts kept coming into my mind that I wanted to ponder more about and so I would turn my light back on to quickly write them down. I did this a few times.

Something else I did, but have tried on numerous occasions with no success, is I adjusted my alarm clock. A number of years ago I watched a TV documentary about sleep and I’m pretty sure the idea given was that, as part of our circadian rhythms and the cycles and states our sleep go through, it has been determined that there is a ’45 minute’ cycle. I’m pretty sure it was 45 minutes but I have never managed to corroborate this.

The idea that I gained from this is, if you wake up too early, but are quite wide awake, then you can go back to sleep (to ensure you have enough sleep) but should set your alarm for, say, 45 minutes later, or if that is still too early then 2 x 45 minutes (90 minutes/an hour and a half), etc. As I said, I have tried this numerous times with no success and this morning was no different, except on this occasion my mind was so busy that when my alarm went off at 6:30 I was still lying there pondering all of this stuff and other things and I could hardly believe I had been dozing for that length of time (it felt like only 20 minutes or so).

Other times I have woken up too early, felt wide awake and got up and done something productive, or perhaps made myself breakfast in bed and settled back in with a book for an hour or so, only to then find I’m suddenly tired again and go back to sleep proper.

The alternative option is to force myself up, regardless of how sleepy I am and try and make myself get on with my day, but then when I have obviously gotten up too early I lack any sort of get-up-and-go, or find myself flagging by mid-morning and fail to have a productive day.

So the conundrum remains, do you get up or to go back to sleep?

[EDIT] Since writing the above, Youtube suggested this video to me and the opening part explains the sleep cycles of 90 minutes:

Title image c/o Freepik


  1. I have exactly this problem. I can recommend some of the exercises in Paul McKenna’s book ‘I Can Make You Sleep’, though they don’t always work. But I am usually able to doze off a little and in general I sleep much better than I did before I got the book.
    Also – catflap?

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