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Morning misery

Morning Misery

I am not a morning person. I pretty much hate mornings, actually.

Even before I had RA, I was always happier and more comfortable being a “Night Owl” and getting things done later in the day and at night rather than trying to wake up perky and peppy early in the morning.  I’ve tried for years to change this habit, especially when I’ve had to work regular 8-5 p.m. full-time jobs that required me to get up early AND be to work on time (what torture!). Living with RA, however, has made early mornings, or just mornings in general, even more difficult for me to deal with–especially when trying to get to work on time every day.

As I sit here writing this at 5:30 on a Sunday evening, I’m already feeling anxious about having to get up at 6:00 a.m. (well, that’s the goal) tomorrow in order to get to work by 7:25. The thought makes me feel stressed and depressed and annoyed because I know what will most likely happen tomorrow morning when the alarm on my phone starts to sound, in that grating, irritating, cruel ding-ding-ding it does. I’ll groggily wake up with a headache and painful, stiff joints, and I’ll hit “Snooze” and sort of fall back asleep. DING-DING-DING! Groaning, I’ll grope for my phone and hit “Snooze” again. I’m awake, yet I feel frozen and immobile like a tightly-wrapped mummy, unable to move much less bounce out of bed ready to start the day.

When I do manage to drag myself out of bed, I’m usually met with a bolt of pain shooting through my right foot and ankle as soon as my feet hit the floor. Actually both feet are usually sore, even if I’m not flaring, and my whole body feels creaky and stiff. The first thought that often runs through my mind is, I want to go back to bed.

But I can’t go back to bed; I’ve already delayed getting up for too long. And so the bad procrastination cycle begins–staying in bed too long, taking too long to “warm up,” taking too long to get ready for the day, stressing out about being late, running around the house like a maniac making a hasty lunch and looking for my keys and who knows what else.

“Warming up” each morning after getting out of bed is an important necessity for me. And, it’s often something I forget about and forget to allow time for, nearly every day. You’d think that after substitute teaching for the last three months I would know to leave enough time in the morning to ease my joints and body into moving better. But I hardly ever do this, so I end up having to rush around the latter part of my morning like a crazed woman, which causes much stress and anxiety and all-around WORSE health. It’s a terrible habit and I haven’t yet figured out how to change it for good.

Once I do arrive at work, after screeching into the parking lot and running through the front doors looking like an absolutely frazzled mess, I then often get hit with guilt and anxiety about being late in front of my coworkers. Don’t see me, don’t see me, I silently pray, as I scurry down the hallway trying to get to the classroom–especially without a particularly judgmental coworker spotting me and shooting an icy glare in my direction or even making a reproachful comment. I’m often tempted to just stop in my tracks and look her full in the face and say, “Listen, I have rheumatoid arthritis, which is a VERY PAINFUL chronic auto-immune DISEASE. I have a really hard time with mornings and this is a big reason why. BACK OFF.” But, ah, I always sheepishly smile, feeling guilty and awful, and duck into the room to prepare for an exhausting day spent with 21 kindergarteners. And hey, I’m not always late. I do push myself hard and actually get to work on time.

So what can I do about this? Not working jobs that start early is one option (and one that I prefer), however most full-time jobs begin early in the morning. I have always been drawn to jobs that have more flexible schedules, which is really helpful when having RA, due to painful mornings, numerous medical appointments, and unexpected flare-ups, and any other weird things that happen from living with RA. After many years of working standard office jobs, I can attest to the observation that living with RA does not work well in a “normal” 8-5 p.m. work environment. Employers don’t exactly like you arriving a little late most days, or having to take time off for doctor appointments, or calling in sick when you’re flaring and can’t walk or use your hands.

Accepting that most jobs begin around 8 a.m. and trying hard to leave enough time in the morning to get ready for work is another option, of course. However I try, I really do. Should I change my clocks and try to trick myself into getting up earlier? Or just keep practicing? Go to bed at 8:00 p.m. every night? Although, I’ve noticed that no matter how much sleep I get the night before, I still usually wake up feeling crappy. Why is this, I wonder? Is it from the RA? Or am I getting poor quality of sleep? It’s something to bring up to my rheumatologist, I suppose.

In any case, I’ll emphasize it again–mornings really are a source of misery for me. I wish they weren’t. I wish I could leap out of bed each morning with energy, ready to tackle the day and be a productive person. If anybody has any good tips about how to make my mornings a little less miserable, I’d be happy hear them. Just make sure you call me after noon, please.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Karen Randall
    1 week ago

    For the first time ever, someone has described my life in perfect detail.

  • christine.laaksonen moderator
    1 week ago

    @karen-randall thanks for commenting. We are glad to hear this article resonated with you. Have you found anything helpful to make your mornings any less miserable, as Angela talks about? Sending you a gentle hug. — Christine ( Team Member)

  • Piper888
    4 weeks ago

    I know this article was written in 2015 but I know exactly how you feel. I dread mornings. I’m very lucky. I’m self employed so I don’t have to get up early. But when I do I have to give my self 2 hours to get ready. Even if that means getting up at 5:30 am and leaving at 7:30 am to get to my 8 am appointment. It takes me that long to get out of my bed finally and get ready. I finally figured out like she said, it doesn’t matter how much sleep I get I always feel crappy when I wake up. So if I go to bed at 9pm or 12 am I still feel bad when I wake up. So that is how I get to places on time. I get up 2 hours prior then I give myself a 1/2 hour drive there.

  • David Advent moderator
    4 weeks ago

    Hi @piper888, thank you for sharing your experiences! I’m right there with you; I wake up two hours before I have to go to work because it takes that long to get ready. RA really has the power to shift schedules around in ways we might not expect, unfortunately.

    Thank you for being a member of this community. Wishing you the best,

    David ( Team Member)

  • MareV
    4 weeks ago

    I was glad to read your article. It states everything I feel. Have ALWAYS been a night owl even as a child. I had 6 children and thankfull that I didn’t have RA when they were young, I used to go like 60, every day. Now I am retired and feel the effect oF fatigue, sleepiness and pain. I get these flare ups about every other week usually. Then the pain and fatigue lets up for a while.
    Is this a normal pattern for most of you?
    Thanks for your input.

  • AndreaCWheeler
    1 month ago

    Thank you so much for writing this. This is exactly how I feel every single morning. I work in education and I have no flexibility in my schedule. I would love to work in the middle of the day, when I am most awake and least in pain. I spend a lot of time feeling guilty when I walk in the door late, even though I always stay late or cut my lunch short to compensate. I wish there was a solution to this, but no matter what time I go to bed, how much sleep I get, or what is going on in my life, mornings are extremely difficult.

  • Mafalda
    2 months ago

    I hear you. I’m only glad my autoimmune disorders started manifesting after my children became adults, otherwise I would not have been able to do half of what I did in my younger days.
    My mornings are always bad, total lack of energy and pain shooting from any body part I try to move. I would stay in bed all day were it not for my pets and the fact that there’s nobody else to help out.
    I only make afternoon appointments and being anywhere by 1 pm. becomes a herculean effort and a gathering of willpower on my part.
    I’m sorry I cannot offer solutions, only the reassurance that we can be very resilient and adapt to any hardships life throws at us.

  • Franki King moderator
    2 months ago

    Thank you for sharing, @mafalda. I appreciate your ability to look on the bright side. It’s definitely a blessing that most people with RA aren’t diagnosed until later on in life. I can’t even imagine what it will be like going through a pregnancy and raising kids while suffering from this disease. But like you said, we somehow find a way to be resilient regardless of the circumstances. 🙂 Good luck with everything! -Franki, Team

  • Dolores
    2 months ago

    I know exactly what you are going through, check out “delayed sleep phase syndrome”.
    I always considered to a night owl as well, no matter how hard I tried or tricks, hacks, etc; I could never go to bed/sleep like “normal” people do!!! I always looked for night employment and was very happy and productive. When I became a mom, that all changed and until about 15 years ago I was so miserable. I finally had to apply for disability, I still deal with all the RA/RD issues but much more on “my timeline” now, thank the Lord!
    Thanks, Dolores

  • sv1227
    3 months ago

    I too was nearly non-functional for the first hour after waking to an alarm even before I was diagnosed with RA. But things changed after I learned about sleep cycles from a guy who studied circadian rhythms at a university where I used to work. Using his recommended morning alarm routine really helps whether or not you have RA.
    Most people get through a sleep cycle-from light sleep to deep sleep back to light sleep-in about 45 minutes.

    If the alarm goes off during a deep sleep, the sleeper will be more inclined to the snooze button, and if he does stay awake, it can take hours to shake off that groggy “I want to sleep more” feeling. If he hits the snooze button, the typical 5, 10 or 15 minutes of extra sleeping will not have been long enough to get through a full sleep cycle–from awake to light sleep through deep sleep and back to the light sleep stage. So the snoozer button hitter will still be groggy when the snooze alarm goes off.

    If you want to wake more easily at a specific time, set two alarms–one that is 45 minutes before you really want to get up and another for your desired time. The first alarm pulls you from deep sleep to awake which resets your sleep cycle so that you will naturally be in a light sleep for the second alarm. Assuming they aren’t sleep deprived, most people can get up after the second alarm without still feeling tired. Individual cycle s vary a bit so if it doesn’t work try adding or subtracting 5 minutes to the time between alarms till you find your personal circadian rhythm.

    Since RA entered my life, I have added having my RA meds ready to take when I wake for the first alarm. Because the meds have a chance to kick in while I am sleeping for the extra 45 minutes, I find the swelling of my feet & hands and my general stiffness are much reduced when I do get up.

  • Kelly Dabel moderator
    3 months ago

    Love this tip sv1227! It makes sense and would be great to avoid that groggy feeling. Sounds like it’s been helping you feel better and love how you’ve adapted it to include getting a jump on your morning meds. Thanks so much for sharing and being part of our community. Best, Kelly, Team Member

  • Jo J
    4 months ago

    I’ve always thought it is unfair that the common perception is late risers are lazy. Once I’m up and my joints are more mobile, I can function at a decent level. Please notice what I get done, not whether it was in the morning or afternoon!

    2 things that work for me:
    1. “Dawn Simulator” light at bedside. I set my to start lighting up about 45 minutes before my alarm goes off. It gently aids the sleep/wake cycle in your brain.
    2. Morning meds, especially an OTC pain killer, on the nightstand to take once I am awake.

  • molesalot
    4 months ago

    I loved the post about mornings being bad. Agree, no matter what I try there is nothing that helps. I am retired and can sleep jots more than any human should. The mornings are tough.

  • David Advent moderator
    4 months ago

    Hi molesalot, I agree with you, mornings are tough. Having a reduced quality of sleep is perhaps the worst problem of RA for me. Thank you for sharing your perspective and thank you for being a member of this community! -David ( Team Member)

  • stormlight
    6 months ago

    Hi Angela!

    Have you tried cod liver oil with vitamins A and D? A couple of years ago, I was taking three hours in the morning to even get close to limbered up, but after six months on this supplement – and I’m not a supplement fan – it was down to negligible. It even seemed to help reduce the pain a bit (mine is mainly lumbar and pelvic, but I know what you mean). Maybe it could help you too?

  • KarenG.
    1 year ago

    Other than the job, you sound just like me, from when I worked…. I worked in a hospital kitchen, and worked every shift on the schedule. Most mornings I had to be there by 5:30am… unless there was a catering or larger patient load, then it was 5am…. I worked taking care of special needs children, so I tried to be positive and uplifting to my coworkers but it wasn’t easy! It wasn’t easy….

  • tckrd
    1 year ago

    The easiest one is get up 1/2 hours earlier. Problem solved.

  • deb856
    1 year ago

    you sound just like me except im not working anymore. I used to work at a school too!! Everything you wrote from hitting the snooze button to being in pain to running in late was all me! I would set my clock 10 min ahead to try and fake myself out, lol but i knew i had those 10 extra minutes. Im feeling better since it is summer…but i am NOT looking forward to winter as it is the worst! People look at us funny since we don’t “look” sick and that is frustrating also.

  • carmc
    1 year ago

    I’ve found there is no option but time in the morning. It takes 2 hours for healthy food, stretching and PT exercises, icing when necessary, anda warm shower or bath. My final years of work in education have been as an educational therapist which means meeting with students after school. This also gives me time for walking, water aerobics, or some other physical activity, getting chores done, and some time to rest and read. I have chosen not to do meds, and have embraced functional medicine which lots of cooking of vegetables and healthy foods. I cannot even imagine doing an 8-4 teaching job right now which involves evenings and weekends grading papers and preparing lessons and units. RA, and the four other autoimmune diseases I have is a full-time job, but after 30 years of trying, I feel like I might have found a way to make it work.

  • 4id359
    1 year ago

    I am the same way mornings are the worst. For the last year I have worked at a call center, never have before and I will be able to retire in 2 years. Luckily for me they have decided to have varied hours and I put my bid in to start at 9:30. I can’t tell you what a difference this has made. I’m in my second week having these hours and it is so much better. I still drag starting on Thursday but the mornings are so much better.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    1 year ago

    I’m so glad your work has been so accomodating! I hope you feel better and better. All the best, Monica ( Team)

  • lp22
    1 year ago

    I was the same only my generalized stiffness and pain was getting progressively worse and worse, while my typical RA pain was stable. Had to go off my biologic for surgery only to find my stiffness and morning aches disappeared after a month off the drug. I am now pain free. I’m sure the RA will come out of remission and I’ll be faced with a decision, but in the meantime, I’m going to enjoy it.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    1 year ago

    Congrats lp22! I am glad you are symptom-free! I am a firm believer in positive thoughts promote good health. Enjoy this pain-free time! All the best, Monica ( Team)

  • RRA1971
    1 year ago

    I can relate to this as mornings are my nemesis. I have 3 autoimmune diseaes and Fibro. All of these have brain fog and my brain is severely impaired every morning. I start waking up at 4:30 a.m. and i try to get to work by 9:00 but usually arrive by 9:30.

    When i get up its as if little gremlins in my head have rewired my brain and crossed the wires that control my cognitive abilities. It takes as long as 4 hours but averages 2.5 hours for me to clear this mess so that i can think, speak, and act normal. I take 40mg of Adderall to aid in this process and withiut it my cognitive abilities do not improve.

    All of this is going on while im also trying to work thru my morning pain and stiffness. Due to sjorgens i also do not have any saliva in the morning and as it starts to work i am trying to swallow liquid without choking so i can eventually take 8 medications. I take an additional 8 meds at night. Most days my vision is blurry and when i get up its at its worst. I also fall and im talented enough to do that just walking across the room. Ive fallen 4 times in the past month.

    These diseases are no joke and only those who suffer from them truly understand. My entire life has changed and im trying every day to adjust.

  • melconn8
    1 year ago

    When my alarm goes off at 6am I promise myself that I’ll get to go back to bed… I just have to take a shower first.

    I drag my achy body out of bed and take a nice warm shower, wrap my hair in a towel and crawl back into bed.

    On the mornings I need extra sleep, I tend to fall asleep for another half hour.

    Most mornings, I just need to lie in bed with a heating pad waiting for the meds to kick in.

  • Monica Y. Sengupta moderator
    1 year ago

    Thanks for sharing, melconn8!! I am the same way…I start my day but always spend a few minutes laying down with a heating pad. It soothes my achy joints and it just feels nice!

    All the best, Monica ( Team)

  • IamStable
    2 years ago

    I too, have never been a morning person. My personal challenge is being married to a morning person. He just doesn’t get it. 40 yrs of marriage and he still insists on asking me questions as soon as I get up. I don’t like/can’t drink caffeinated drinks. He may talk to me BUT don’t ASK ME QUESTIONS. It was worse when I was working, also for a morning person. Morning people think the whole world is like them. I am also church organist. The church president knows that my goal is to get there, but once in awhile I awake feeling like I’ve been hit by one or two tractor trailers. I can’t give him much notice, but they’ve learned to have contingency plans.
    It’s nice to know I’m not alone. Thanks.

  • Finbar72
    4 years ago

    My job requires me to start at 0800, so my routine starts the night before with having my electric blanket on medium from around 1900, as bed time is anywhere from 2000 to 2200 (if I am lucky)the blanket stays on low over night, so my bed is never cold and that seems to help with my stiffness.
    0530 first alarm – take meds, hit snooze 2 or 3 times
    0600-0610 – eventually drag myself out of bed, shower etc
    0635- leave house, hobbling as I go and travel to work. I use public transport because I won’t drive any more and I can’t afford a car now anyway.
    0750 – arrive at my desk
    1620 – escape and make my way home
    1820 – arrive home, then I have to make dinner, I say make, usually by this point I’m so shattered that it’s a sandwich or bowl of soup. Sometimes i do make the effort to cook but it is an effort. After that I try to read or listen to a little music and then its bedtime again

    I know all that sounds a little bleak but I am very lucky in that my doctors surgery is open from 0800 and I can even make advance appointments (6 weeks in advance) which really helps with planning.

    I do also enjoy free gym membership through my company that allows me to go swimming every lunch time and that is a god send.

    I also try to do as much as I can straight after work, a trip to a book shop, or coffee with friends etc which ok means getting home a little later but I can have dinner out and therefore no cooking.

    Weekends are simply what I live for, no rush to get up, life at my pace and i can suit myself, it’s a far cry form the me 4 years ago who would think nothing of getting up at 4am just to go on a Dawn Chorus walk with the RSPB or to sit and watch the sunrise, I used to love mornings, not any more.

  • Rosiegirl
    4 years ago

    I was just diagnosed with RA. I could not understand what was wrong with me. I was with a rheumotologist for 5 years and he did nothing for me. When I moved near my daughter I made an appointment with hers. First thing he did was full body xrays and bloodwork. I came back positive high level RA. I now understand why I hate mornings. Thank Goodness I do not work I would never be able to function. Doctors appointments and other stuff is always scheduled for 11 am or later. when I sit up in bed I give myself time to let my balance settle and stretch my legs and feet.Then I move as fast as I can to the bathroom!!

  • Jenn Lebowitz
    4 years ago

    Hi Rosie –

    Thanks for sharing your experience here. Sorry for your recent diagnosis, and we’re so glad you found us! You’re certainly not alone in your experiences here! Please do feel free to come by any time.

    Jenn (Community Manager,

  • Aldely
    4 years ago

    I totally agree with Lindsay! Caffeine triggers inflammation on me. I cut it off, not like I don’t miss it! I replaced for a huge detox juice, homemade, more veggies that fruit first thing in the morning with an empty stomach. My pain level went down significantly and my energy came back slowly. Mornings are some more manageable now. My juice is made out celery, cucumber, ginger and ONE apple.Ginger is super important for inflammation! Good luck!

  • Amanda Ford
    4 years ago

    I have to get up at 5, so that I’m ready to leave at 7. I have microwaveable slippers. I’ve also discovered that I’m worse if I sleep for too long. I go to bed by 11 and get up at 5 on a work day. If I sleep until 7, then I become really stiff and sore, so at weekends I will get up early, then go back to bed for a rest if I need to.

  • Merry
    4 years ago

    I too need about 90 minutes in the morning to ease into my day. I keep soft comfy slippers right by my bed. Hot showers ease the pain in back and shoulders. A hot cup of tea or decaf coffee allow me to wrap my hands around the cup and warm them. Yoga stretches and some strength training with bands and very light weights are next. I also make it a practice to be in bed by 9:00. When I was working I had to get up by 4:30 or 5:00 to make it to work by 7:30. And some days the fatigue was so great I needed to stay in bed. My advice is to take the suggestions that everyone has offered and fit the things into your lifestyle to help you. Not everything works for all of us. I have severe RA or stage 3 and was finally diagnosed 10 years ago.

  • Lindsay
    4 years ago

    I know it sounds crazy, but my mornings are better when I cut caffeine completely out of my diet. I go to bed at a decent time, sleep through the entire night, and wake up refreshed. That’s not to say I’m not stiff and achy, but my energy level is more appropriate throughout the day. I do seem to be less stiff when I wake up, but mostly my energy level is better. Oh, I am 31 with JRA/JIA, by the way.

  • Nes
    4 years ago

    LOL, I am a morning person but have noted that I don’t pop out of bed like I used to with RA. What I have done for my husband and for myself when needed (sometimes I would rather stay in bed all day and wallow in misery alone than face the day)I have moved the alarm clock (now the cell phone) across the room. You have to get up to get it so since you are up you might as well get to getting! Accept that you are not a morning person, if you feel like crud when you get up regardless when you go to sleep go to bed when you want to. More than likely you toss and turn if you go to bed to early anyway. Focus on the days you get to sleep in and maybe the mornings will be less brutal for you. Good Luck!

  • Angela Lundberg author
    4 years ago

    Hi Nes!
    Thank you for your comment and your tip for dealing with getting up in the morning. Moving my alarm/phone across the room so I actually have to get up is a good idea. I’ll try it!

  • Stefanie
    5 years ago


    I completely understand these feelings! I have never been a morning person and it has caused me to perpetual be late! No matter how early I set the alarm I always find a way to procrastinate in bed as I “warm up” my joints. As a child with JRA, I used to wake up hours early to take baths every morning to loosen my joints before school, fortunately I don’t have to do that anymore but still dread the morning alarm! Check out my blog post about my similar experience here:


  • Angela Lundberg author
    4 years ago

    Hi Stefanie,

    Thank you for your comment and the link to your blog. I think you linked the wrong post but I found the one you wrote about regarding lateness. Good post! I think I’m probably a mix of the personalities you wrote about: Indulger/Producer/Absent-minded Professor!

    Here’s the link of anybody else wants to read it:

    Thanks! Good luck to you!

  • Dana Williams
    5 years ago

    I had always been a morning person until the resurgence of my RA after over 35 years in remission. Now mornings hold the most challenging hours of the day. Jan’s”tin man”comment really hits the mark! I’ve tried paraffin baths for my hands and wrists, pain medications,gentle yoga, etc., but the only thing that helps at all is giving myself permission to come into the day slowly and easily. I guess I’m fortunate(?) to be “medically retired” because of my RA, and I am able to usually take whatever time I need. Still, it is, without question, “Morning Misery”! Thanks for your article, Angela!

  • Angela Lundberg author
    4 years ago

    Hi Dana,

    Thank you for your comment and reading the article! Coming into the day slowly and easily…I agree. And allowing oneself the time to do that (that’s where I struggle).

    Best wishes to you

  • jan curtice
    5 years ago

    Mornings and RA (or fibromyalgia or any other type arthritis) don’t mix well! It’s not the waking up that I have a problem with; it’s the actual getting up I dread. There are a few things I’ve figured out that help me, perhaps one of them will help someone else? First of all, I sleep with an electric blanket on low/medium year round. This keeps my joints & muscles warm so there isn’t as much stiffness in the morning. Of course, then I have to turn the A/C down to compensate for the extra heat, but that also helps me sleep better. Next, my hands (and feet) can be very painful and difficult to move. So, I put on Lidocaine patches (cut in half) across the back of my hand and compression gloves. For my feet, I wear diabetic socks. Finally, I try to take my meds about an hour before I have to get up. So, I keep them beside my bed with water. Then after doing a few lounging stretches, I am able to get up feeling I have my day under control. Not a perfect solution but I’m not longer crawling out of bed in the morning feeling like the “tin man”. I am looking forward to seeing what other ideas/solutions are posted. =^^=

  • Angela Lundberg author
    4 years ago

    Hi Jan!

    Thank you for your comment and for reading my post. I agree, it’s the actual getting up that’s really difficult. I often feel as though I’m lying in bed with a 500 lb weight flattening my body. Thank you for sharing your tips of what helps you get up in the morning. I’ll try some of those!

    Thank you,

  • Annette Cornwall
    5 years ago

    I too HATE mornings. Always have even before the RA that hit almost 40 years ago. These are my try’s. My life is better when I do them. Set your alarm about an hour early. When it goes off take a back and body pill. They are aspirin or Tylenol or even ibuprofen with caffeine. Just take a regular otc dose, and if you have morning meds take them snuggle back down and doze until your 2nd alarm, (when you really have to get up) goes off. If you like it do some yoga stretches still in bed. Say prayers, read scriptures, or whatever you do. By taking your meds and then lazily rolling around a bit in bed, you give the meds and caffeine a chance to work. It really does help. And thank you so much, it’s great to know I’m not alone. I never want to get out of bed!

  • Angela Lundberg author
    4 years ago

    Hi Annette!

    Thank you for taking the time to comment on my post and for your helpful ideas. I think having a second alarm (instead of hitting snooze over and over) is a good idea. Stretches sound good, too, along with taking meds while still in bed.

    No, you are definitely not alone in your hatred of mornings. 🙂

    Thank you!

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