It’s official, I’m now an early riser.
This is a personal development project I’ve been seriously working on for the last couple of months.
It’s actually taken me that long to get to the all important 05:30am alarm that I decided upon. But as much as waking up early sounds really easy, it’s anything but.
Now for all the night Owls out there you carry on. This post is in no way going to bash you for your peak performance times or try and convince you to change because there is now too much evidence to suggest that both early and night workers have equal standing but for me being able to wake up every day at 05:30am is where I wanted to be.
There are a whole host of reasons for becoming an early riser but not least because I adore the early morning hours that come with quiet tones and pretty skies.
In the end though it’s just been about me and the battle with my alarm clock.
If you’re like me you’ll have a natural time that you tend to wake up (if you went to bed at around the same time every night and you turn your alarm off). Mine, I discovered was 7am. This waking time gave me about zero capacity for being able to do anything but get up, get ready for work and head out the door. In doing so I felt rushed, unprepared for my day and had absolutely no leeway for unexpected events that might occur between waking and entering work.
Of course if all you want to do is sleep and work then all well and good but of course work is only one part of my life, I have many more parts, and I suspect you do too (even more so if you have young children).
So after reading the many positive articles explaining to me the advantages of moving my wake up call to an earlier time I was really enthused and wanted to get to it.
Unfortunately you can’t go from 7am to 5:30am in the blink of a night. Try it and you’ll notice you won’t stick at early mornings for very long as your body wonders what the hell you’ve done to it, adding stress and causing you to feel more tired. (The only exception to that is those barmy mornings you have to get to an airport but you’re so excited you don’t care).
Instead I had to move my alarm back 15 minutes each week. I started in September from my natural waking time of 7am and moved the alarm back to 06:45am, then 06:30am then 06:15am, and so on until I reached the all important 05:30am
Moving my wake up time meant I had to, where possible move my sleep time too. And this was when it started to get a little bumpy. Telling someone to go to bed at the same time every night is about as do-able as heading to space. I’m not sure if I’m alone in this but my energy levels during the day go something like this:
- Wake up groggy
- Have a Tea/coffee (probably both)
- Peak energy between 8-10am.
- Energy dip between 10-12pm so eat a snack or eat lunch early
- Semi peak after lunch.
- Complete slump anywhere between 3pm and 6pm. Even with caffeine the slump is pretty bad and I’m about as productive as a sloth.
- 6pm have dinner
- Then between 7pm and 10pm I hit another high peak. Often just before bed I’m raring to go again!
So to counter all this peak and troughing of energy usually people will advise, eat light throughout the day, cut back the caffeine, don’t drink alcohol….blah blah blah…
Not me though, because if everyone else is peaking at the same time you don’t really want to be anti-social and say good night do you? And as for the cutting out the alcohol, have they seen the day I’d had?!
So I battled a bit to try and find a solution around this.
Turns out the solution is that even if you don’t take any other advise you have got to get to bed at a reasonable time. How you do this is the battle but it’s very worth it and actually it gets easier the more times you achieve it.
I made sleeping my new priority. Rather than see sleeping as a mere nuisance to an otherwise great evening I turned it into something to look forward to because I’d got done everything I wanted to, I’d achieved wins and was now ready to sleep.
Unfortunately saying that and doing it are two completely separate entities. I found that I created new habits from it, and not all of them good. I started using the evening to wind down with my tablet which ended up coming to bed with me and I would then spend too long watching or reading things I didn’t need to be. Or even worse I’d be checking Facebook. Why on earth do I need to know what other people are doing at 10pm?
After a couple of weeks wrangling with electronic equipment I tried something else. I set out (because I like lists) on paper what my perfect evening should be like, and how it could work to get me to going to bed at a reasonable time every night. It looks something like this:
|Things I need to do||Time|
|Turn off phone and laptop/TV/Tablet||19:30:00|
|Tidy & clean kitchen||20:00:00|
|Have a bath/shower||20:05:00|
|Set clothes out for tomorrow||20:40:00|
|Plug in all electricals for tomorrow||20:45:00|
|Read (Paper book only)||21:05:00|
Does it work? It does because I’ve got no excuses. Although detaching myself from the electronic devices has been tricky and in some cases the tablet has come back into the bedroom (cheeky little tinker). Also, turns out that going to bed earlier doesn’t mean I’m missing out on anything.
On the whole if I win 5 out of 7 days in a week then not only do I get more done but I’m way ahead of everyone in the day before they have even opened their eyes.
While it’s not the easiest thing to achieve, nor will it suit everyone’s life, it has been very worth it for me. I’ve now got more time in my day to spend working towards my big goals in life.
Are you an early riser or more of a night owl? When’s your peak productive hours? Have you tried changing your waking time? Share below, I’d be interested to read.