Alden Boon

I began waking up at 4am and now I have a lot of anger


In recent times, many media outlets have become relentless in spreading rather radical and idealistic advice. “Quit your job today, travel the world or your life is unfulfilling!” reads one headline, leaving me to ponder how in the world — one that I supposedly haven’t explored enough of — am I supposed to fund my expeditions. “Sugar is the number one killer! Kill it before it kills you.” goes another. There has also been a spate of articles extolling the benefits of starting my days early. It is touted almost as the precursor to success. In truth, the articles make me feel like a lazy swine sailing through life, embalmed no less, just because I have a penchant for hitting the snooze button.

And you know what, I tried this new routine and it is not all it is cracked up to be.

Unbearable hunger

Disrupting your REM sleep and cycle of laziness engenders serious repercussions. By 8am I have the insatiable hunger of a bear coming out of its hibernation and foraging for food for the first time in months. Instead of the “six small meals per day” maxim, I have to eat six big meals at 6am, 8am, 12pm, 4pm, 8pm and at 12am. This is largely inconvenient, because I retire for the night at 7:12pm, and hence have to further disturb my sleep twice in the wee hours.

Five stages of grief on speed

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross in 1969 detailed the five stages of grief. The stages usually unfold over a period of time, but the concept of time is wrecked when you acquire the habit of waking up at 4am. In but a span of my whittled 20-hour day I free-fall through what is commonly termed an “emotional rollercoaster”. First comes Denial: “This is going to supercharge my productivity. I can get more things done. Hey, I can even pencil in a gym session at 11am, and then have a two-hour lunch at Burger King.” Anger very soon festers. “It’s all my boss’s fault that I have to start waking up at 4am! I could kill him for inundating me with so much work! For all the hours I put into my work, I’m seriously underpaid.”

Bargaining follows. “I’ve been good, so perhaps I can snooze for five minutes and wake up at 5am tomorrow instead?” Soon, Depression rears its ugly head. “Why am I destined to lead a life of hardship? Why are my inheritance pittance?” And finally, Acceptance: the wisdom to say waking up at 4am is not for me.

Dug my own grave with enhanced productivity

The serenity of the early morning paves the way for mental clarity. It is the graveyard shift on social media, so there are no distractions. No incessant pouring in of emails that don’t require my attention either. I get work done before the first sunlight ravishes the dark skies. The downside of supercharged productivity — and sending work assignments way before the deadlines — is that I inadvertently raise expectations. My colleagues took notice of my newfound superpowers and started setting arbitrary deadlines: Mondays, 5:12am.

Feeling worthless

Work is a necessary evil, as it is life’s greatest distraction from… life.  With my to-do list struck off, between the hours of 1:12pm and 7:12pm all I have is extreme boredom. My mind starts to stray, and I begin developing epiphanies. I feel helpless about the Battle of Aleppo. I get angry reading the hate-filled messages of Donald Trump’s supporters. I want to cure cancer. Yet I am powerless — and above all, too sleepy — to act or evoke any change.


Alden Boon
Alden Boon is a Quarter-finalist in PAGE International Screenwriting Awards. When he's not busy writing, he pretends he is Gandalf.

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