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How to Wake Up Earlier

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Everyone wishes they could pack more time into their day. There’s always so much to accomplish and never enough time. Maybe you didn’t read as much as you wanted. Or perhaps you fit in your workout because of a last-minute working lunch. Maybe you didn’t spend enough time with your kids because there was laundry and dishes to do.

The absolute best way to get more time out of your day is to wake up early. When you wake up 30 minutes earlier you have the opportunity to dedicate that whole 30 minutes to something important to you or critical to your day. Imagine having an additional two and a half hours every week!

Few people however rise before they absolutely must. This article discusses how to wake up and maximize your day with that extra 30 minutes.

Do You Need Eight Hours of Sleep?

To perform optimally, researchers say that adults need six to eight hours of sleep every night. However, do you really need eight hours? Are you a person who can perform on seven or six hours of sleep? How do you know without trying?

Despite this modern research, there are many great figures throughout time who swore by fewer hours. 

Thomas Edison

Edison in his NJ laboratory 1901.jpg
Credit: Copyright 1901 by Underwood & Underwood. USA copyright expired. Source: LOC via http://www.americaslibrary.gov/aa/edison/aa_edison_subj_e.html

Thomas Edison is considered the United States' most successful inventor. He claimed that he only slept four hours a night.[1]

Jack London

Jack London Young
Credit: By published by L C Page and Company Boston 1903 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Jack London was a prolific writer who lived an exciting life in which he worked many adventurous jobs. He disciplined himself to only sleep five hours every night.[2]

1. It’s Hard

If waking up 30 minutes early were easy, everyone would do it, and there would be no such thing as a snooze button. In order to do something difficult, you need to be motivated. I wouldn’t say you have to be blood thirsty, but you definitely need to be thirsty. You need to want something. Something that is worth a little manageable discomfort. Self-development. Meditation. Exercise. Reading. Something that you can both enjoy and feel good about doing.

2. Make a Plan

The best way to wake up early once and never do it again is to do nothing with that time. Don’t allow yourself to be so sluggish that your wake-up routine doubles in length. Don’t brush your teeth for 10 minutes. If you’re bored or doing nothing, you’re only hurting yourself.

Don’t be inefficient and waste hours you could dedicate to a noble cause or even recovery. You will never wake up early again because you let yourself down.

This plan needs to be specific. Run two miles. Lift three sets of five reps of squat, bench press, and deadlift. Read X book for 15 minutes. Complete two French lessons on your Duolingo app.

Once you know exactly what you want to do, consider how long that activity takes. Will it take your whole time period? What if you finish early? Always have a contingency plan. I like to have a book ready that I can work on just in case I finish my workout or study session early.

3. Hack Your Sleep

Hack and biohack are words that get thrown around quite often, but take every measure possible to ensure you get the best sleep possible. Turn off every source of light. Get a black out curtain if your shades aren't cutting it. Turn your phone off, or place it on airplane mode. Don’t use electronics within an hour of bed time. Eat well, hydrate well, and work out like a champion. It takes me less than 30 seconds to fall asleep because my body is physically tired at the end of the day.

These websites have excellent advice on how to get the most out of your sleep.

1)     The National Sleep Foundation

2)      The Bullet Proof Executive 

3)      Ben Greenfield Fitness 

After some solid REM cycle sleep, waking up the right way is critical. My alarm gradually gets louder with time. I like it because it eases me out of my slumber. Other people will use a natural sounds alarm, a sleep cycle app, or a sunrise alarm. Each are cool in their own way and help you wake up at a better point in your sleep cycle. 

4. Meditate

If you’re excited about every new morning like I am or if you’re stressed about what the next day will bring, regular meditation will strengthen your mind. That mental training will help you relax and put away your emotions in order to fall asleep.

5. Just Do It

The final piece of the puzzle is to do it. Just do it. Then do it again. When you make it a habit, with a trigger (alarm clock) and a reward (feeling of accomplishment or exercise endorphins) it won’t be tough anymore. It will be an automatic habit.

I remember when it was such a violent struggle to rise before I absolutely had to. Then I decided to lead my life instead of just living it. At first I tried several techniques from putting my alarm on the other side of the room or drinking a quart of water before bed to help me wake up earlier.

But now that I deliberately plan out my mornings every weekday and sleep with excellence, my wake up is automatic. Every weekday at 4:00 AM. I don’t feel tired in the morning anymore and I pop out of bed. I feel excited to do something new, learn something, or accomplish a chore to free up evening time. I’m starting a new day, and it’s my day.

Conclusion

It doesn’t matter if you get up earlier than someone else or if your day starts later. As long as you can add some extra time to your day and not waste it, you’re winning.

To review, if you want to get up early to add that extra time to your day—30-60 minutes—you need to (1) want it. Be motivated. (2) Make a plan for that time so that you don’t demoralize yourself after the first few days. (3) Maximize the quality of your sleep and when that alarm goes off, get up and get to it. (4) Train your mind with meditation. (5) Then do the same thing the next day. Be positive, work hard, and it will become a habit.

As a final note, you’re biggest skill is understanding your body. If you know that your body is ill, broken, or your mind isn’t keeping up with your ambition, you need more sleep. Nobody knows your body like you know your body. An extra hour or two on the weekends enable me to push harder during the week.

Be smart about your needs and wants, and deliberately make your sleep decisions.

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Bibliography

  1. OLGA KHAZAN "Thomas Edison and the Cult of Sleep Deprivation." The Atlantic. 05/11/2015 <Web >
  2. Reinhard Wissdorf "A Surviving: The short life of Jack London." www.jack-london.org. 5/11/2015 <Web >
  3. "How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?." National Sleep Foundation. 16/11/2015 <Web >

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