The benefits of waking up early and how to overcome the desire to snooze

My waking alarm screenshot

Despite working from home, you’re probably unaware that I try waking up at 4.30am during the week.

“But Breanne, you can work at any time of day, why are you putting yourself through the torture?”

Because it’s not.

There’s just something magical about the early hours. Watching the sunrise whilst working at your desk, hearing absolute silence, tasting a warm, waking coffee. There really is nothing better than waking up before the rest of your world. And, here’s why…

Why you should start waking early:

“Wake up an hour early to live an hour more”

Sleeping in leads to wasted hours. Right now, you probably spend your evenings unproductively watching the television, scrolling through social media, bored, just waiting for something to happen. Hate to break it to you, but, you’re spending valuable hours of your life, achieving nothing.

The average life consists of  657,450 hours, 28,000 days or 75 years. When you subtract the number of hours you spend sleeping, working, scrolling or watching TV, there’s not much time for anything else.

Now, I’m not suggesting we stop sleeping. Far from it. Sleep is ridiculously important for your health, mind and body. But how much we need varies from person to person. I’ve discovered that I roughly need around 6-7 hours of sleep per night. Although, sometimes I can survive on less than 3 and other times I’ve slept more than 12.

What I am suggesting, is we prioritise our time around sleep better. Instead of spending every evening scrolling the web waiting to see what your Insta-friends are doing that evening, go to bed. Early. Wake up early. And get shit done.

It’s easier saying it than doing it

Believe me, I know. My nickname is sleepy Bree, I love sleeping.

But, just think about it, your morning sets the standard for the rest of your day, have a bad morning? You’ll probably have a bad day. When you wake up early with almost zero distractions, it’s kinda hard for people to start pissing you off and ruining your day. You can control it. You can control everything you do when you wake up earlier than everyone else.

So by controlling your mornings, you have the capability to spend time doing exactly what you want to be doing, instead of rushing around trying to get ready for work, getting the kids ready for school, or doing whatever you’re currently stressing over in the mornings.

What’s so great about the morning anyway?

  • Silence: If you live in a populated town or city, the chances are you associate waking up with cars accelerating, buses tooting and school kids shouting. It’s not a great way to wake. Even, having a family of your own I imagine can be loud and stressful. But, by getting up before all these distractions you can enjoy the calm and peacefulness of nothing, except possibly a few tweeting birds… We all struggle to find quiet time in our day. Time, where we can relax, meditate or just enjoy alone time. Which is why early mornings are the perfect answer to our noisy life problems.
  • Mental wellbeing: It’s a fact that morning people are happier than night owls. Morning people are less likely to suffer from depression during their lives. By waking up earlier, before the morning rush, you are eliminating significant pressure from your day. Rushing around, trying to get organised in a small space of time is stressful. Really stressful. Especially if you’re trying to get other people in order, or preparing yourself for a big business meeting. By waking up an hour or so earlier you are eradicating that stress factor and giving yourself extra time to take the needed action. You already know that the first hour of the day sets the mood for the rest.
  • Time: You’re not necessarily gaining time by waking up earlier as the chances are you’re also sleeping earlier. But, you’re probably changing the way in which you manage your time. By switching your free time from the evenings to the mornings there’s a higher probability that you’ll be spending it more productively.

How will an early morning make you more productive?

  • Lack of distractions
  • Brain is recharged and energised
  • Positive mental attitude
  • More time to plan out your day
  • extra time for goal setting
  • More prepared for the day

10 tips to help you get to sleep earlier

Struggling to sleep is one of our biggest inconveniences, which occurs, for me, most Sunday evenings. It normally happens when you’re totally drained but your mind’s still trying to stay alive. There are a few things I’ve found have helped allow me to get to sleep earlier than I used to, which I’ve listed below. Although, these aren’t completely foolproof as there will probably still be times where your brain decides that overthinking is more important than sleep.

  1. Drink chamomile tea before bed
  2. Avoid watching TV or scrolling your phone half hour before bed
  3. If you must scroll use a red light filter app like twilight
  4. Avoid conversations that mentally engage your thoughts too much
  5. Read a book
  6. No caffeine after 4.30
  7. Exercise regularly but not just before bed. Morning workouts are desirable for a good night sleep
  8. Avoid over-eating in the evening, bloated sleep is never fun
  9. Be more mindful, try some calming meditation and observe your breathing
  10. Only use your bed for two things, sleep & well, I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you. Associating your bed with other brain fueled activities will leave you struggling to sleep.

How to actually start waking up earlier

Struggling to wake up in the morning is rarely due to a lack of energy and more to do with your mentality. Having a reason to wake and giving your mind something to think about is the best way to rouse yourself. Waking up without a reason and without a plan will likely send you drifting straight back off.

So the first step to waking up earlier is to have a plan, a routine. After reading the Miracle morning by Hal Elrod I started integrating many of his suggestions into my morning routine. He uses the “SAVERS” list, as follows:

  • Silence
  • Affirmations
  • Visualisations
  • Exercise
  • Reading
  • Scribing

However, I don’t follow it exclusively. My morning routine is centred around my own personal goals, achievements and journey. First things first, I drink a glass of water. Drinking a glass of water first thing after waking up not only rehydrates you after hours without liquid but it also kick-starts your metabolism and helps to wake you up – some even suggest it’s better than coffee, but I’ll leave that for you to decide.

After drinking water I like spending around 5-10 minutes meditating. I’m no pro but, I’m trying. I think it’s a great way to start the morning positively, with a clear mind. After meditating, I start reading a couple of chapters from whichever personal development book I’m currently studying while drinking my coffee. Then, before heading to the gym, I like journaling about the previous day and spending around 15-30 minutes on Duolingo studying French.

My morning routine is all about spending time working on myself. Paying attention to myself and treating myself.

Finding your routine will be the ultimate wake up

However, if you don’t have one yet there are a few other things you can do to help.

  • Set an alarm and stick to it. NEVER EVER SNOOZE IT. If you believe you’re not a morning person and you hate waking up. Why the hell would you snooze your alarm so you have to wake up over and over again? You’re basically torturing yourself repeatedly with something you hate.
  • Go to bed with good mental thoughts. instead of sleeping with the thought of how much you “hate” mornings, start exciting yourself about the prospect of waking early and about all the stuff you’ll be doing. 
  • Make the change gradual. I’m not saying you should start waking up at 4.30 like I do, but maybe start with an extra 15 minutes. Eventually, you’ll find it turns into half-hour and then maybe an hour. When sleep starts to feel inconvenient, you know your life’s going positively.
  • Buy a natural light lamp. During these awful winter months, it seems like ages before you manage to see sunlight. Sometimes, you can go days without seeing any. Starting work at 8 and finishing at 5 during the darkest months can completely deplete you of the vital vitamin D you need. But not only that, it can be so much harder to rise. A daylight alarm clock can really help with waking you up naturally.
  • Coffee. If in doubt and these tips don’t work, then there’s always coffee.

Take home message

Every day is a new day to make a fresh start. Using these hints and tips, you can make a real change in your daily life and your attitude. It’s not easy, there are still some days when I struggle getting up early, but if/when you can do it, You’ll realise it’s so ridiculously worth it!

Do you have any other hints and tips you want to share? Let me know in my Facebook group or on Twitter

  

 

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