I’ve always wanted to be an early riser. Maybe it was having my grandparents constantly telling me that I’m “missing the best part of the day” if I’m not up and about first thing in the morning, maybe it was the nagging feeling that there just wasn’t enough hours in the day any more. Whatever it was, it was always something I struggled with.
A few years ago, sleeping a little longer was an option. Now, with a toddler running around the house, if I want to get anything done I NEED to be up early. Between a full-time job, a long commute and some family time every day it was getting really tough to find time to get a workout, write or generally do anything that could reasonably be considered having some ‘me’ time. I was basically left with 2 options – go to the gym after work and lose out on time with the family, or get my lazy ass out of bed a couple of hours earlier in the morning and go before work.
As you might expect, option 2 was the only real option for me. So I resolved to start getting up at 5am every day, including weekends, no matter what. To find out where I may have been going wrong before I decided to look at some proven methods of improving sleep quality, as well as ways to regulate my body clock.
It started with figuring out how long I typically slept on an average night. On a work night I was typically getting between 7-9 hours’ sleep, with the time varying depending on what was on TV or if I was getting too involved with a PlayStation game. This involved getting up around 7am most mornings, and no real consistent time for going to bed.
I decided to aim for 7 hours of good quality sleep, going to bed at 10pm and setting my alarm for 5am. The first few days were tough, and I had to resort to hiding my alarm clock to make sure I had to get up and look for it instead of just hitting snooze! After around 2 weeks I started to wake up a few minutes before the alarm went off – a really positive signal that my body was beginning to adjust to my new schedule.
There was still the occasional day where I was tired all day, even with a similar diet and exercise routine throughout. The only thing I could really pin it on was that some nights I really wasn’t sleeping as well as I could, so the next step was to try and improve my sleep quality.
To do this, I decided to look at the way I put my son to sleep. Around an hour before bed it’s quiet time – we’ll relax, read a book and generally just try to calm him down before he went to sleep. I figured there must be some truth to the term ‘slept like a baby’, so I resolved to do just that. TV and computers went off at 9pm, I lowered the lighting a little and sat reading for a while.
From that first night on I’ve never looked back! I wake up feeling refreshed and ready to go, I’m very rarely tired during the day and overall I just feel much better. I’ve also cut out caffeine after 2pm too, which seems to have helped a little. Getting good quality sleep really does make getting up early much, much easier.
So if you’re looking to wake up earlier in the morning there’s 2 things I’d recommend you do:
- Set a time to go to bed and a time to wake up and stick to it. After a few days it’ll get easier
- Look at improving the quality of your sleep as much as possible
Getting up earlier and sleeping well has given me more time in the day, and I’m getting much more done. I can’t recommend working on your sleep enough. Sweet dreams!