How to wake up early

21.11.2019

Sunrise Picture by Sage Friedman.

I’ve recently started waking up at 5 AM and this shift of my waking hours is really changing the quality of my days. It started as kind of an experiment, but currently I have no intentions of going back to waking up at 8. Not only am I more productive, I’m also feeling more energetic and awake. I don’t fall into passive consumption behaviour that easily, so I’m actually able to do what I want to do in my freetime, thus having more joyful days.

Why would I do this?

Did you ever compare your willpower in the morning to whats left in the evening? Have you ever noticed a difference in your motivation on days that you slept in and stayed in bed after waking up, compared to days that you woke up early and started your day right away? Did you ever compare the quality of the time you spend in the morning to that in the evening: What are typical activities you perform in the morning, what is typical for the evening?

For me, there are huge differences in all of the above aspects:
You might notice that how you start your day has a big impact on how you feel and perform for the rest of that day. When I spend the first hour of my day in bed, I feel lazy for the whole rest of the day, and so that’s what I’ll continue to be that day. This isn’t particularly bad for one day, but once it occurs on multiple consecutive days, I just feel terrible.

When I’m having freetime in the morning I usually do something I want to do instead of something I just end up doing because it offers easy satisfaction. The activities I perform in the morning are most often productive ones that make me feel good upon completion, while the ones I perform in the evenings are mostly some kind of passive consumption. I’m way more likely to read, practice playing the guitar or write in the morning, than I am in the evening. Mindlessly skipping through videos, watching a movie out of boredom or scrolling through some social media feed is something I’d never do in the morning but could be something I fall into doing after coming home in the evening.

By shifting my waking hours towards the start of the day, I could reap all those positive effects of the early hours while wiping out the negative ones of exhausted evenings.

Waking up early

When starting to wake up early, it’s important you don’t cut down on your sleep! You should still get your 8 hours every night, not only for maintaining your health, but also because it will make waking up early nothing extremely hard. After 8 hours of sleep, a normal alarm should easily wake you up.

Another tip that’s really worked wonders for me is getting my lighting right. Try dimming your lights early in the evening and turning them all on in the morning, immediately after waking up. After a few days, you will notice how much that helps with shifting your sleep schedule.

Also, when starting to wake up at a different time, try not to go all in on the first day. Instead, change your schedule by 30 minutes each day.

Actually getting out of bed

Putting your alarm across your room will force you to actually stand up in order to mute it. If you use your phone as an alarm clock, it’s a good idea to keep it away from your bed anyway.

Once you’re awake, try to get up as soon as possible. I like to sit or lay down and read a tiny paragraph in a book (The Daily Stoic is a great choice) for some minutes before getting up, but the goal is to be out of bed in like five minutes after waking up.

If you don’t feel motivated and tend to fall asleep again after waking up, try giving yourself a purpose: Planning your morning hours the evening before really helps with motivation for getting up. Having a strict routine to fall into takes away any decisions from you; you won’t even think about going back to sleep.

Doing sport immediately after getting up is a great way to become fully awake and feeling really fit for the rest of the day. It also makes sure you don’t skip any of your workouts. I like to go for a quick run immediately after waking up. Again, if you struggle with motivation: Don’t allow any decisions and prepare in the evenings. I believe laying out your workout clothes the night before is extremely powerful. You will usually feel cold in the morning and putting on your workout clothes is a fairly easy step to complete instantly after waking up. But once you’ve got your workout clothes on, you won’t just change clothes again without working out, right?

After working out you probably want to take a shower and then continue with your routine or start your day. I’ll write some tips about good morning routines soon.


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