If you read any self-help/wellbeing types of websites, they always mention that getting up early is a good thing to do. They’re right, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds.
Some people are programmed to get up early; it comes naturally to them. Other people, not so much – it can be a real struggle each and every day.
I’m in the latter category, good and proper – a night owl of the first degree. And I guess if you’re reading this, you’re in the same situation.
Personally, it’s taken me a long, long time to train myself away from the late-to-bed habit. And now, I’m firmly in the early-to-rise category (well, I’m on my way there – I slip every so often).
So how can we make that seemingly monumental switch to being a morning person?
Biochemically, it means shifting our circadian rhythms, so it’s no mean feat. However, even if you don’t become a natural early bird, you can find ways to slowly alter the way you feel about getting up in the morning.
Why Do You Want To Get Up Early?
The first thing to do is remind yourself (regularly) why you want to get up early. What is it about the early morning that you want to see?
There are numerous reasons to want to get up – they include the following: watching the sunrise more often, having time to eat a proper breakfast before work, having time to fit in some reading before the day, time for a walk, less rushing, time for meditation.
Why ever it is that you have chosen to get yourself up early, you need remind yourself of it regularly; it feels like a big deal, so you’ll need to convince yourself on a regular basis.
When that alarm clock goes off and you grimace into your pillow, run through the list of benefits and shake yourself up.
Take It Nice And Slow
If you want to wake up an hour earlier each morning, you can’t just set your alarm an hour earlier and get up. Well actually you can, but it’ll be a shock to the system and you probably won’t do it again.
The best way to handle a switch in circadian rhythms is a much more gradual affair. It will take some determination and planning, but it’s the only way to really achieve a long-lasting change.
Initially, set your alarm for 5 minutes earlier than normal. Don’t worry about going to bed any earlier, you won’t be tired enough and you won’t get to sleep. Just make sure that you get up 5 minutes earlier each day. Yes, you will want to hit that snooze button, but just remind yourself why you are doing it – it’s only 5 minutes for Christ’s sake – get up!
After a week at your new time, take another 5 minutes off. You still don’t have to worry about your bed time; as the weeks go on, you will be more tired in the evening and naturally go to bed a little earlier – but only if you stick to this routine.
After another week, reduce it by 5 again. This sounds like it will take too long, but it means there is a gentle and smooth change in sleeping hours that you can stick to.
Waking up 5 minutes earlier is not a big deal, and 12 weeks from now, you’ll be getting up an hour early.
Now, this is the real kicker. In a perfect world, you should be rising at the same time every morning of the week – weekends, too. That certainly is ideal, but it’s not always going to be possible. So at the very least, make sure you get up earlier than you would normally at the weekend.
It’s all about consistency.
Get Your Environment Right
To help you in your transition to early riser, you need to get some things right in your sleeping environment.
In general, the natural wake/sleep cycle is supposed to start earlier than it does in modern humans. In other words, the sun rises before we do. Use it to your advantage. The sun is the original alarm clock and it’s how our brains train to a rhythm in the first place.
Leave a chink in your curtains, or buy some thinner curtains. That way, as the morning glow creeps into the room, your subconscious brain will be readying itself for action.
Also, don’t have your bedroom too hot. Keep it refreshingly cool.
If you sleep in a noisy neighborhood (or with a noisy partner), buy some earplugs. They’re cheap and amazingly effective.
Also, try to avoid using glowing screens half an hour to an hour before you go to bed. The brightness of the display tricks your brain into thinking it’s time to get up again.
Get Pumped About It
Getting up early is great. The reason why you’ve read this is because you want to get up early. So get pumped about it. Be excited. It’s only a minuscule change in the global scheme of things, but it is significant.
It signifies self-improvement. Slow, incremental self-improvement. Another straw on the camel’s back. It shows that – if you put your mind to it – you can make changes to yourself.
Sure, it’s no big deal, but in a minor way you have showed flexibility and a desire to better yourself. It’s all good.
So, rather than dreading it – revel in it. And enjoy the sunrise.