I strive to wake up every day at 5:00AM. I use the term strive here because it doesn’t always work out as planned. It’s something I continually try to improve upon and it’s something I believe is a very important piece of the puzzle to being “healthy, wealthy, and wise” (Benjamin Franklin).
Why Wake Up Early
I would say your average person’s alarm goes off at just the precise time to allow them to shower and dress for their day — and if they’re lucky, grab some breakfast — before making the mad dash to work or school. It can be a stressful way to start off your day!
Now, imagine you could add 2 hours or more to your day. What would you do with that time? Work out, plan your budget, work towards earning extra income, pursue your passions? Take a few moments to make a list of things you would do if you had more time. Once you’ve got your list, think about this:
People don’t “have” time, they make time.
In other words, saying you don’t “have” time for something, in reality you’re choosing to spend your time on something else. If that means watching TV, sleeping in, or browsing animated cat GIFs, then you’re prioritizing those things over the things you wish you had time for (you know, on that list you just made).
I’m able to add at least 2 hours to the start of my day by waking up at 5AM. During this time, I accomplish a great deal before most people are out of bed. I use this time to chip away at those things I always wanted to do, but never seemed to “have” the time for before.
Early rising is a wonderful way to greet the day. You can accomplish anything if you set aside the time to do it:
- Enjoy some much needed peace and quiet
- Do some relaxing yoga
- Have a leisurely breakfast with the morning paper or an old friend
- Read that book that could be broadening your horizons
- Start a blog or website
Almost anything is possible with 2 extra hours in your day — when you’re fresh and bright, early in the morning, rather than tired and dragging at the end of the day. Do this every day and it can easily add up to a whole extra month over the course of a year. [(365 days * 2 hours ) / 24 hours in a day = 30.4 days]
How to Wake Up Early
If you’re convinced early rising is for you — which you must be convinced to have success— then you’re going to need to use some special tactics to make sure it happens! It is a hard transition and many people have trouble waking up, even after a good 8 hours of sleep. (Believe me, I should know!)
There plenty of resources on the web for techniques to wake up, so be sure to Google it. Here are the tactics that work for me (a couple of which I’ve already mentioned):
- Want to get up early. It’s essential that you want to do this. If you think it’s a good idea, but you’re reluctant, it will never work out.
- Plan for tomorrow, today. While this is good all around advice, we can apply it more specifically to early rising. Have something planned to do in the morning or keep a “To Do” list. Be excited about the possibility of what you can accomplish when you get up in the morning. These are great motivators for getting you out of bed. If you go to sleep at night thinking “Man, I’m just so tired, I could sleep forever!”, you’re going to try to squeeze every last Snooze you can out of your alarm. If you go to sleep thinking of the events of the next day, you will rise prepared to meet those challenges and accomplish your goals.
- Use a Wake Up Light. I use a dawn simulator, or wake-up light, instead of a blaring alarm clock. This is a natural way to wake up your body using light, as if the morning Sun were rising right there in your bedroom, at any time you choose! Not only will you wake up more naturally, but you’ll wake up happier and more energetic (and if you have Seasonal Affective Disorder, you’re actually treating your condition with the early morning light at the same time). Check out the wake-up lights here on Wake to Light.
- Visualize waking up. This might sound silly, but it works for me. As I’m lying in bed at night, I visualize the process that will unfold in the morning: my alarm goes off, I stretch my legs out, I sit up, and I take a big drink of water, and away I go. Some early risers even suggest practicing waking up early during the day when you have some free time. Do this by setting your alarm for a few minutes ahead of now, then lying down until it goes off and instantly sit up and turn the alarm off. This conditions your internal response to the alarm as jumping up out of bed instantly instead of hitting the snooze and rolling over (or whatever your normal routine might be). Visualization is a powerful technique.
- Wake up your insides with water. I keep a glass of water at my bedside for this purpose. Take a few big gulps of water as soon as you wake up and this will “wake up” your insides also, and subtly inform your body that it’s time to get moving.
- Use a calendar to keep yourself in check. The first time I tried waking up at 5AM every day, I used the advice of Jerry Seinfeld. He suggests, for any new habit, you use a calendar and mark a big red ‘X’ on each day that you accomplish your task. The key is to make a chain of X’s and to not break the chain. This worked for me and the calendar on the wall in our kitchen was a constant reminder of my intentions to rise early every day and to track my progress.
These are the tactics that have worked for me. Becoming an early riser was no easy task, but it was something I wanted to accomplish, and so I did it. Before, I could sleep through my alarm indefinitely. I often times would hit my Snooze button in my sleep and just keep on sleeping (impressive, huh?). So, if I can do it, I know you can do it, too!
Keep this one thing in mind, however: Sometimes, you just don’t get up! No matter what elaborate plan you make for waking yourself up in the morning, if your body needs sleep, it will get it one way or another. So, don’t feel bad if things don’t work out every time, but don’t give up, either! Keep your list of items you want to accomplish where you can refer to it often, make it your inspiration and let it help you stay on course. Early rising is well worth the effort!