People who wake up early are usually people who are motivated to get things done; people who can’t wait to start, work on, or finish projects in a speedy and efficient manner. Imagine how great it would feel to get half of your to-do list checked off before most people get out of bed. While there are studies that show night owls as being on the more creative side of the spectrum, think about all the successful people in the world and their daily rituals. The vast majority of them will identify as a morning person. Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison and Arnold Schwarzenegger all wake up early enough in the morning and follow a relatively well structured routine throughout the day. There is definitely a link between being an early riser and achieving goals. Fixing a habitual sleep procrastination problem could be the one thing that leads you to success in all your endeavors. Besides, whether or not you consider it fair or not, the world operates on a model that favors early risers – stores tend to close in the evening, offices usually open for work at early hours of the day and so on and so forth. Of course night clubs, hotels and restaurants tend to stay open till later hours, but they’re a part of institutions that will provide leisure not goal momentum. Getting up early will certainly make your life easier to schedule since your daily activities will also line up with the rest of the modern civilization’s natural rhythm. Imagine having more time to spend on hobbies, with your family, for personal relaxation or meditation. These are all wonderful reasons to become an early riser but what are the ways in which you can do that? The steps discussed below, will get you up and out of bed with the sunrise in no time.
- Plan your morning the night before:
This is incredibly easy to do and something most people skip. They think once they can achieve waking up early that they will magically have enough motivation to decide on the spot how to best utilize their time. It’s not going to happen. Trying to decide what to do when you’re tired & groggy is a losing battle; you’ll most likely opt for sleep.
What you can do instead is right before bed, write a list of goals you’d like to accomplish for the following day, make sure your surroundings (including the dishes in the sink) are clean so they don’t distract you in the morning, and broadly plan what you’ll be making for breakfast.
- Decide your time to wake up before you go to sleep:
Have you ever noticed that many times when you have some urgent work next day morning you get up before your alarm wakes you up? This happens because you have thought of urgency before you go to sleep. Unconsciously you tell your mind to wake you up early.
Your subconscious mind is more powerful just before you go to sleep. You need to tell your mind just before going to sleep at what time you want to get up the next day. Your mind is the most powerful alarm in the world. Our iPhones usually let us set alarms for the entire week but that makes us lose out on what was once a very powerful ritual or setting (and in ancient times winding) an alarm clock. The act of setting an alarm clock every night before we slept for the next day subconsciously programmed us to wake up at the appropriate time the next day. All you have to do now (since it is the 21st century) is tell yourself (aloud or in your mind) what time you would like to wake up the next day.
- Set your alarm and put it far from your bed or get a smart alarm clock:
This one is crucial. It’s very easy to reach out and hit the snooze button almost unconsciously, so keeping your alarm clock in a place that forces you to get completely out of bed is almost mandatory. It’s harder to go back to sleep once your body is annoyed at having to get up and wrestle the blaring alarm. I personally don’t think this is a good strategy for someone struggling with bedtime procrastination. Therefore, I alternatively recommend an app like Sleep Cycle to allow your wake up to happen at an optimal moment when you are in a lighter phase of sleep thereby not triggering any intrinsic resistance to waking up early.
- Exercise (in the right way):
Getting your blood pumping and your body moving is the best way to force it to wake up. Try jumping out of bed to perform 10 or so jumping jacks or push-ups and I dare you to go back to sleep after. Of course, the best thing you can leverage exercise to sleep optimally is to place a well thought out exercise regimen at the start of your day. I’ve had clients who placed their workouts in the evening but I feel this could actually aggravate a problem like bedtime procrastination. If you are a sleep procrastinator, you must absolutely place some kind of physical activity at the start of your day. There are some interesting ways to leverage exercise to balance out your neurotransmitters and hormone levels to make your body and mind more conducive to regular sleep. Pranayama, yoga or tai chi can be excellent evening activities while weight training, cardio, MRT or HIIT are great morning routines. Combine the two ends of the spectrum into your regular day for re-balancing your sleep routine.
- Let light come in naturally to your bedroom (or use IoT lights):
Allowing natural light to come into your room as you awaken will help you get up more naturally. If this isn’t possible, you can buy alarms that simulate the sun rising with a natural light that gradually wakes you up. Philips has a number of Internet of Things enabled lights that can be synced with smart alarm clock apps. The best way to leverage light to optimize sleep would be to have blackout curtains in your room with a smart home lighting solution to sync with an alarm clock like Sleep Cycle so that you wake up in an incredibly refreshed state and your body is encouraged to sleep at regular hours every night.
- Eat a hearty breakfast:
By planning a tasty breakfast your body will thank you with bursts of energy after that bit of exercise you performed. I do know however that Intermittent Fasting (IF) has in more recent years caught on as a means to maintain weight and mental focus. The most common meal skipped in an IF protocol lifestyle is breakfast. Without prescribing specific diet advice, I do recommend trying to schedule an intake of calories in the form of high quality fats & proteins just before bedtime. This could be collagen protein in supplement form along with passionflower or chamomile tea or something as simple as a glass of warm milk with a pinch of turmeric & nutmeg (Caution: more than a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg could send you on a trip). I’ve seen people on IF ignore their caloric needs at this crucial juncture just before sleep.
These are the most essential steps in waking up early and getting things done. You’ll be an early riser in days rather than struggling for weeks without progress if you follow the above plan.