“Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
One of the most common traits of successful people is waking up early. The way we start our morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. Have you ever had those days where you get a late start and feel like you spend the entire day trying to catch up? I have many times, at least I used to. One of my favorite habits that I’ve instilled since graduating college is waking up early. I love the feeling of getting something done before everyone else has even started their day! If you’d also like to experience that feeling – keep reading.
4 Things to Accept Before Moving On
- Remember why you want to wake up earlier
- Consistency is key
- No naps until you’ve adjusted to your new schedule
- No snooze button
These 3 things will set you up for success with taking on this challenge. The natural “morning person” is rare by the time we reach adulthood. Most of the “morning people” that exist had to learn that trait, whether intentionally or because of circumstances. (such as joining the military, a long commute to work, a crying baby, etc.)
Ask Yourself Why
Why do you want to wake up earlier? What do you want to do with that extra time? You might want to get your daily exercise in first thing, maybe get some work done or perhaps just be able to have a relaxing morning and watch the sunrise before starting the day.
If you want to wake up early because you think it’s a good thing to do you’ll be back to hitting the snooze button by day 2. You need a personal reason.
I say this because waking up earlier than you’re used to is painful at first. If it was easy, and assuming you want to do it, you would have already started doing it by now right?
Come up with a genuine reason (or several) for why you want to wake up early and build a desire for those reasons.
Keep it on your mind. Think about it before you go to bed and first thing when you wake up. Put a note by your alarm clock if you have to. Just don’t lose sight of your why.
Consistency is Key
Waking up early requires consistency.
Our bodies like routine. Our bodies have an internal clock, the circadian rhythm, that manages when we get tired and don’t. For our circadian rhythm to function optimally we need a regular sleeping pattern.
How do we maintain consistency? By always waking up at the same time. We can’t always control when we get tired enough to fall asleep, but we can force ourselves to wake up at any time we decide.
You won’t have success trying to wake up earlier by going to bed earlier, because at first you won’t be tired enough to do so. However, if you consistently wake up at the same time your body will naturally adjust and you will get tired earlier at night.
You can allow some variance, but not too much. I like to wake up at 5 am on weekdays, 7 am on Saturdays and 8 am at the latest on Sundays.
Even in college when I might not get to bed until 4-5 in the morning I still never slept in past 10 except for a handful of times. But that was because I feel like the day is wasted when I sleep in too late.
Ideally you want to wake up at the same time every single day, but realistically most of us won’t stick to that.
So pick your wake up times and stick to them. No exceptions.
Do not sleep in past those times, no matter what, until after you have built the habit of waking up early. You don’t have to use the times I do, just do what’s best for you.
It only takes one bad morning to end your streak and send you right back to your old ways! I know you might be thinking surely one time isn’t that big of a deal right? Well, you’re going to do what you want regardless, but don’t say I didn’t warn you. I know this from experience and from talking to others about it.
Naps are a love/hate thing for many people. Some people, like myself, have always hated them. Then there are others who love them and swear by them.
Naps can be useful, and have their place, but not when trying to wake up earlier. It will only extend the time it takes you to adjust.
What happens is that when you first start trying to wake up early you will feel a dramatic crash in energy in the mid to late afternoon usually. If you decide to take a nap, you will feel rested and you won’t be tired enough to go to sleep earlier. The result is that every day of waking up earlier will feel like the first day, which is the hardest.
You will adjust. Most people stop getting the crash within the first week, so tough it out!
Naps delay your adjustment to waking up early, so no more naps until after you’re comfortable waking up early. Again, you don’t have to take my word – but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
No Snooze Button
Under no circumstances should you use the snooze button.
The snooze button is your worst enemy. Just forget it even exists.
I use my phone as an alarm, but I keep my phone plugged in on my dresser instead of on my nightstand. This way I am forced to physically get out of bed when my alarm goes off and turn it off.
This is the moment of truth. The second I turn off my alarm I have two options, stay awake or crawl back into bed.
Since I didn’t hit snooze, crawling back into bed could have serious consequences. What if I fall asleep and don’t wake back up in time?
Well, then I learn an important lesson the hard way – the most effective way.
The snooze button is what caused you to create the bad habit of sleeping in, so why would you think it could help you? You’re addicted to the snooze button! It’s time to break the addiction.
You’ve already proven to yourself that you can’t use the snooze button responsibly so you have lost your privilege of using it at all.
The Quick & Difficult Method
There are two ways you can start waking up early. This one is my preferred method, but it is certainly not for everyone.
This won’t work if you lack discipline. I don’t want to be discouraging or anything, but there’s no reason to set yourself up for failure.
This method is very simple. Let’s say you currently wake up at 8 and you want to start waking up at 5. You just simply start waking up at 5. That’s it, now you wake up earlier.
The problem arises in the moment of truth.
Waking up 3 hours earlier than normal is painful. It won’t be easy. Your mind plays tricks on you. You start telling yourself all of the reasons why it’s ok to just lay down for a minute or why tomorrow would be a better day to start waking up early.
DO NOT LISTEN TO YOURSELF!
You aren’t thinking clearly. Seriously, your circadian rhythm is all out of whack and you are delusional. Your internal clock thinks it’s still sleepy time.
Pull it together and focus on why you wanted to wake up. Remember, the discomfort is temporary, but you are building a habit that can last a lifetime.
The Slow & Easy Method
Let’s be honest, many people will face the moment of truth and jump right back into bed using the quick method. That’s ok. If that happens to you then start again with the slow method.
In the same scenario, changing from 8 am wakeup time to 5 am, you aren’t going to jump straight into the deep end.
You’re going to ease your way through the shallow end first.
For the first week, just wake up 30 minutes earlier. If you can’t do that then wake up 15 minutes earlier. If you can’t do that then this isn’t for you, sorry.
After a week, add another 30 minutes so that you are waking up a full hour earlier than you started.
Then you repeat this each week until you get to your desired time.
This is much easier because it doesn’t require your circadian rhythm to make such a drastic change right away. Building momentum is a powerful tool to create change.
Also, it works on the mentally challenging aspect. 30 minutes earlier sounds (because it is, obviously) much easier to do than 3 hours earlier. It’s easier to make up your mind and commit to a smaller challenge.
I like to get results quickly so I just can’t get excited about the slow method, but it’s a great backup plan if you want to try the quick method and find it isn’t for you. Otherwise, most people will find a greater success rate with the slow method.
If you want to guarantee you stay awake, start your day with a nice cold shower.
You want to wake up earlier and now you have selected a plan of action, the ball is in your court. You have to follow through! Just know that it is difficult for everyone at first, but it’s a temporary pain for a lifetime of benefits.
Why do you want to wake up earlier and how do you plan to do it? Let me know in the comments.
Until Next Time,
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