Becoming an Early Riser

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.

Process

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
Review day 20:50:00
Read (Paper book only) 21:05:00

And sleep!

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.

Productivity wins

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.

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19 responses to “Becoming an Early Riser

  1. Oh, I’m definitely more productive in the (early) morning – as long as I haven’t had a sleepless night. Especially now it’s winter, it is easier for me to achieve a bedtime of 9:30 (with half an hour for reading a paper book). I actually really look forward to this event… By evening, I’m usually too drained to do anything productive apart from cook and read blogs, so if I want to keep the house clean and tidy, it does have to be done in the morning😉.

  2. I LOVE the early morning, it is my favourite time of the day, and looking back, I’ve always been an early riser. At the moment, I tend to get up around 5.30am to get ready for work, and I don’t have any problems with this at all!

    Over time, I’ve noticed that I have become quite a poor sleeper really; I tend to get 4-5 hours sleep a night (sometimes less!). Strangely, the more I tried to remedy this by going to bed earlier and earlier and trying to have lie-ins at the weekend, I found this made me feel quite bad. I have taken the philosophy to simply sleep when I feel tired — to an extent! I do have a fixed bedtime that I try to stick to, and a routine to wind down… and I have to confess, I find it wonderful when I can finish work early on a Friday, go home and have a nice afternoon snooze 😀

    • Hey new reader, thank you for taking the time to comment.

      I think sleeping when you want is the best thing you can do (if mostly impossible). You can’t beat an afternoon snooze! 🙂

  3. With a little human in the house, I wake earlier than I used to (and go to bed earlier than I used to.) My previous natural wake time was around 9am (down from my previous natural wake time when I was younger of 11am.) I’m curious what my day will look like when this little human sleeps a bit more…

    • Having a little human about the place must be very exciting. Suddenly new routines are created. Although, just getting into a new routine like that must be very hard.

      11am? Wow! 😉

      Maybe as the little one get older, you’ll become a night owl again?

      • I think if there were a routine about it it might be easier 😉 as soon as we get her into one, she’s off and needing a different one!

        Perhaps! We shall see.

  4. I used to work graveyard shift and loved the solitude. I got automated out of a job, kept my old daytime sleep schedule for a few months, then I decided to flip the schedule after I spent a month in India which really messed up my circadian cycles. I returned home to the USA and calibrated my sleep times to night. I now awaken around 4:00am. I feel much better these days.

    • Flipping from night to day is very impressive. Work does dictate a lot of what times you have to wake and sleep but it’s nice when you can get back some control in it, especially when you get positive outcomes from it.

      Thanks for stopping by the blog 🙂

  5. You are awesome to be so organized. I’m going to try to learn from your example (I love mornings if I can force myself to get up, but when I don’t “need” to, I find I go to bed later and later). Thanks for the inspiration.

  6. Well, about me ? I wake up at 6 am to get ready for job. I need my time to wake up and have some gym for my neck . Then I need a good breakfast. I Used to wake up this time when I attended the hight school and I ve always hated to wake up so early because this force me to go to bad at 9,30 or 10 pm . And it is too early ! On fact I would like to go out meeting some friends or attending some clubs for my hobbies or watching a movie or reading . People meet after dinner here. So for my social life it would be better to wake up later and have more time in the evening. Maybe I should train myself to go bed later and sleep less every nigh so that I can do what I want without being a Zombie ……

  7. What an interesting post – I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, how to get up earlier and not waste the precious morning hours when I’m undoubtedly at my most energetic and productive. I naturally wake up between 6 and 7am, even at weekends, due to my regular working hours, but it’s not the waking up that’s the problem but the actual getting out of bed. It’s just too cosy in there! And so I lie there reading news articles on my phone, driving my partner mad (he’s still trying to sleep). Any tips on making myself get out of the damned bed?

    • Hi Joanna, thanks for reading my blog post. Lovely to have a new reader.
      Yes the waking up is one thing but getting up???! Well, here’s the thing. Some advice would say get up as soon as you turn the alarm off so as not to give yourself time to think and talk yourself out of getting up but that doesn’t work for me.
      Instead I take a few minutes thinking about all the things I want to get done that day, who I’m going to see and all the potential good things I’ll be involved in (essentially getting my mind in order) – that then makes me want to get up and get started on my day.
      Let me know how you get on 🙂
      Good luck.

  8. On work days I get up somewhere around 3am which is doable because I go to bed at 7pm ish. To wake up in the morning I set two alarms on my cell phone and plug it in to charge on the other side of the room. The first alarm to go off is a gentle one, a soft tweeting bird noise. Here is my trick though, the second alarm goes off one minute after that and is the most blaring, annoying sound in all creation. So when I hear my first gentle alarm go off I know that I have 60 seconds to get up before horrid sounds commence. Gets me up every time. My dogs are the tough ones to get out of bed.

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