Becoming an early riser is something I’ve been wanting to work on for quite some time now. As a kid, waking up early was something I associated with being productive. The earlier I got up, the more I did during the day. I was more content with myself at night and I was less bitter about the things I did not manage to tick off my to-do list when the day was over. Something changed over the years and I’ve become lazy. In this project I will rebuild my motivation to wake up early.
The challenge this month was to wake up everyday between 04:30AM and 05:30AM for 30 days in a row. This is a documentation of MY JOURNEY and what I learned along the way.
So first things first…
Like with any new endeavor the first few days should be dedicated to a general figuring out of what works and what doesn’t. The first week of March (Feb 29th-March 6th) was dedicated to figuring out how I’m going to pull this off for the rest of the month. During this brief adjustment period I found out that:
1. I need 6hours of quality sleep
2. I need 15 minutes to fall asleep give or take 10minutes (i.e. between 5-30minutes)
If I want to wake up at:
– 04:30AM, then I have to go to bed around 10:00PM.
– 05:30AM, then I have to go to bed around 11:00PM.
So if I want to wake up between 04:30AM and 05:30AM, I need to go to bed between 10:00PM and 11:00PM.
This of course is assuming that I will fall asleep within 30minutes of lying down.
How can I guarantee that I’ll fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed?
This is what I learned:
A) I fall asleep much faster if I’m physically (not mentally) tired.
-Training in the morning does not guarantee that I’ll be physically tired in the evening.
-I need to train in the evening to be physically exhausted in the evening.
-The way I train, I need to train for at least 90minutes to feel physically exhausted.
-I need minimum 90minutes between the time I finish my training session and the time I go to bed.
If the end of my training session is too close to the time I go to bed, I find it difficult falling asleep.
B) Sometimes the training session will end later than expected. Sometimes I might train less than 90minutes. Sometimes I might not even train, or I might train for 90 minutes and be physically exhausted but I’ll still find it impossible to fall asleep. This is rare but it might happen. How do I manage these kinds of situations? What else can I do to increase the chances that I fall asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed?
1) Dim lights 30-45 min before bed to help create an ambience conducive to sleeping.
2) Don’t stare at your laptop screen or phone screen 30 minutes before going to bed.
3) A 5 minute cold-then Warm shower 30min before going to sleep to signal my body that it’s ready for bed.
(During the cold shower I tell myself 10 times “Yes me, Yes now! Do it now”.. More on this in a future post!)
4) Taking natural sleeping pills (aka not melatonin) 15 minutes before I go to sleep make me drowsy.
5) Reading paperback novels before bed, light reflected off a surface vs looking directly into light. Stories prepare my mind for dreamland. Non-fiction information laden books before bed make me feel as if I’m preparing for exams. Fiction novels before bed= good. Non-fiction Textbooks before bed= Bad.
Now let’s turn to the actual “early rising” part of this project.
During that first week I notice quite a few things that I would use as an excuse for not staying up once I got up. You see, waking up at 04:45AM isn’t that difficult. All you got to do is set an alarm at 04:45AM, put the alarm next to your bed, and once it goes off..TA-DAHH!! You’re awake! Then you turn off the alarm and go back to sleep.
Getting up at 04:30AM is a little bit more difficult than waking up but that’s still not that big of an achievement. All you got to do is set the alarm and position the alarm device 10-15 meters away from your bed. That’s when you’ll start coming up with reasons for why there’s no point to getting up so early and how more reasonable it would be to go back to bed.. Reasons like:
– It’s too dark outside.- It’s cold.
– Everybody is sleeping right now, I don’t want to bother them.
– I’m hungry but I’ll be to noisy if I start cooking right now.
– I’ve nothing to do at 04:30AM
And the list goes on and on…
So this is how I manage my morning “Not me, Not now” Self:
A) I’m kind of hungry first thing in the morning but not in the mood to cook (I don’t want to wake up my girlfriend or the neighbors) or eat (I don’t like chewing first thing in the morning)
Solution: Green Smoothie (It hits the spot and there’s no need to chew)
I prepare it the night before, before I take a shower (That way I avoid being noisy so early in the morning)
B) I’m kind of sleepy first thing in the morning so I need to wake up:
–Turn on lights to wake up
(Of the various factors that influence this entrainment, light exposure to the eyes is the strongest. Melatonin plays a large role in effects of light on circadian rhythms. When an organism is exposed to a light stimulus, the hormone melatonin is suppressed, or prevented from being secreted by the pineal gland)
-Cleanse face with warm then cold water
(Warm water gets rid of debris in pores and generally you are more willing to wash your face with warm water first and then with cold water. Cold water wakes you up.. and some claim it’s good for the skin.)
-coffee only 2 hours after waking up.. Why?
-First hour from the moment I wake up DO NOT INCLUDE :
1) Chilling on the sofa (As this will feed my desire for comfort)
2) Leaving a blanket or duvet on the sofa (This will increase the chances of me wanting to chill on the sofa)
3) Meditating or reading a book (I always read on the sofa. I’ll definitely fall asleep if I meditate first thing after I get up )
C) It’s cold in my apartment in the morning:
– Sleep with a sweatshirt and sweatpants (or have them near for when I wake up)
– Have my slippers next to bed
Now as I mentioned in my previous post, you need to have a reason to get up early in the morning. If you haven’t got something you want to do, something to work on… why the heck would you get up in the first place?
Instead of “finding” something to do in the morning (this language is evidence that you’re hoping to stumble upon something that is tailored to your liking), fuckin’ choose something you know you’re interested in doing, practicing or learning and stop being a whiny little bitch first thing in the morning. This is a decision you need to make for yourself. Nobody is gonna push you to get it done because nobody gives a flying fuck about you. There..I said it!
The only person that has your best interest in mind is YOU!
Not your girlfriend, not your friends, not your colleagues, not even your own family… Just YOU!
We are all alone in this world, and we will die alone. Once you understand that you are nothing more than a twitching blob of respiring biological protoplasm no more fundamentally significant or enduring than a lizard or a potato, you can rue the day you were brought into this pointless existence OR you can grab life by the balls and actively participate in creating your own meaningful way of living.
In other words…you need to become your own fan, coach, teacher, mentor, apprentice, student and quit that “poor me” shit from the second you hear that goddamn alarm!
This is how I go about it:
I want to spend as much time outdoors throughout the day as possible but my go-to excuse in the morning is “It’s too early. Why do it now when I can do it later? What am I gonna do outside so early?” A Not now-Not me mentality!”
–Have something planned to do outdoors.
The cold, fresh air first thing in the morning is a reminder that I’m ready to go. Go where? Anywhere. Anywhere but back to bed. What the fuck am I going to do outdoors at 05:30AM?
Well, I wanted to practice the Pose Method of Running, but I’ve been avoiding practicing the method for 3 weeks.
-Prepare running clothes (Watch, barefoot or vibram shoes, beanie, keys)
-Prepare exercise list. (which technique will I practice today?)
Say I practice my running technique for 30 minutes. Then what?
Well, let’s just say I got a lot of things I must do like:
– Take a shower
– Brush my teeth and wash my face
– Make my girlfriend and myself a GOOD breakfast
– Prepare lunch
– Drink lots of water
– Maybe clean up the mess I made while making breakfast
But then there’s other things. Things I’d like to learn or get better at. Want examples?
– Learning languages
– Learning how to cook
– Reading books
– Flexibility, Strength, Balance, Juggling..anything movement related
– … … for reasons of verbal parsimony let’s just bring this to a halt…
So there’s always shit to do, and it’s always better to make use of your willpower in the morning than in the evening after your 8-hour shift of “fuck-my-life-I’d-rather-be-somewhere-else-right-now”.
And just to make sure I’m on my feet before 05:30AM
I set 3 different Alarms all at the same time (one on my phone, one on my other phone and one on my watch) just in case one of them doesn’t go off.
-All are set at the same time so that I have one opportunity to get up. No snoozing. If I go back to bed I get up without an alarm. I’m not allowed to set another alarm in 15minutes.
-Put the alarms in 3 different places:
1) Watch on wrist
2) One near the main light switch
3) One in the Bathroom
If you want to cultivate and maintain this habit all you have to do is follow the advice in this post. Once you’ve built the habit, if you don’t want to maintain it after the first month, you can always come back to this post when becoming an EarlyRiser becomes important again.
Remember: A project doesn’t need to be useful for it to be meaningful.
And this ladies and gentlemen is how I became an Early Riser.