“It is well to be up before daybreak, for such habits contribute to health, wealth, and wisdom.” – Aristotle
Most people dread the sound of their alarm clock. Unless their “alarm clock” just so happens to have a glorious rack and gives blow jobs instead of emitting those high pitched beeps.
Even when that is the case it’s still preferred to roll over afterwards and get “just 5 more minutes.” I’ve done it, you’ve done it and everyone you know has done it.
Who in their right mind wants to wake up early?
Just because it’s common doesn’t mean it’s the most effective. I’ve been waking up (mostly) regularly at 4am for the past 18 months. Part of it is because I like to have the extra time before my “real job” to work on my side project (this blog) and the other part is because I’ve grown to like it. It’s gotten to the point where I feel like a lazy slob if I’m still in bed and it’s later than 630am. So without further ado…
Why you should want to wake up earlier
1) You get more time in the day. Not in the sense that waking up at 4am magically makes each day 27 hours instead of 24. In the sense that most people still aren’t awake and/or functional until 8am at the very earliest. That gives you an extra 4 hours to take advantage of the most glorious thing you will ever experience….pure silence.
- No people to interrupt you.
- No cars/buses/trains trying to push through rush hour traffic.
- No phone calls.
- No texts.
- No emails.
- No last minute “OMGZ we need to do this right fucking now or the world is going to shit all over us” deadlines.
2) Now this might just be me and the friends I’ve talked about this with, but waking up earlier is incredibly motivating. Have you ever heard people talk about something making them want to “take the day head on” or “make the day their prison bitch”?
That’s how I feel. This, for me, can be traced back to basic training in the summer of 2004. Every morning we’d start the day with PT and a long run well before the sun rose. The way it worked out for the entire 9 weeks was we’d do whatever strength training first, in complete darkness, then move onto the run. Right as we were starting the run you could see dawn approaching and the sky gradually turning from coal black to into a vibrant dark red. As the run went on the red got more vibrant and intense eventually turning to orange and yellow. Then, just as we crested this one hill that was around mile 4…BOOM…sunrise right there in front of you. The running route turned for the last 1.5 miles back to where we started and we finished with the sun warming our backs.
I hate running but I loved that feeling. The warmth of the sun and knowing that another day of hell was over and that I was one more day closer to seeing my family.
No matter what you do the sun will always rise tomorrow and you’ll be one day closer to being finished. You can apply this way of thinking to anything from school to life and death. This is talked about more in the 4 Keys to Mental Toughness.
3) When everyone else is still warming up for the day you’re already in full stride. This one goes hand in hand with the first point. When you wake up 10 minutes before the start of work or class it takes longer to be present mentally. You’re still shaking off the grogginess and thinking about what you need to do later in the day.
Waking up early and being fully alert well before you start interacting with others is underrated. When they are still half asleep and trying to put together coherent thoughts you will be at 100% already and be much more effective.
Naturally, after throwing out 3 reasons why you should want to wake up earlier it only makes sense to tell you HOW to wake up earlier.
Waking up early…the how-to section
First, and most obvious, go to sleep earlier. If you really want to wake up before 7am it makes no sense what so ever to stay up until 3am playing video games, asking random people “a/s/l?” on whatever instant messenger you’re using or baton twirling.
Go to bed dude.
Turn off the lights. Turn off your computer screen (or download flux). Take an ice cold shower and relax in your bed until you’re dreaming about Jessica Alba massaging your shoulders while Mila Kunis feeds you grapes and Jessica Biel models bikinis and/or underwear.
Second, you need to wake up the same time everyday. This includes weekends. It sounds minor, but trust me, if you try to “just get an extra hour or two” on Sunday you will have a hell of a time getting up early the rest of the week. There is no reason you can’t treat this extra time on the weekends for something constructive. Use it to work on a side business, hobby or just to read and educate yourself.
Lastly, and this is my favorite, take a nap. Not as in wake up at 4am then nap at 403am. More like wake up at 4am and then nap at noon or 1pm or whenever you naturally start to feel tired. Sleep for 20-30 minutes and then get back to whatever you were doing. Any longer and it might prove difficult to get to sleep at the time you want later that night. Even if you can’t completely fall asleep just finding a place to zone out or meditate can help recharge to finish out the day.
The key to this one is to not main line caffeine through out the day. Coffee drinkers should be OK with 1-2 cups, tea drinkers can probably go as high as 4 and Red Bull/Monster/5 Hour drinkers should find a better solution or stop playing video games.
Clearly it can be made more complicated than this, but why the hell would you want to do that. Give it a shot and see just how great waking up early makes you feel and the amount of stuff you can get done before the rest of the world wakes up.