Waking up early used to be the bane of my existence. Why wake up early when you could spend a few extra minutes in bed? Everyone knows that early mornings are actually when your bed is at its peak comfort level…. The sheets are warm, the pillows are perfectly placed, and you’re finally getting some proper shut-eye.
I’m not an early bird. I’m not a night owl. I’m some sort of permanently exhausted pigeon.
That being said, I have attempted to become an early riser in the past, to no avail. There was always something – snoozing the alarm just a little too long, being a very unwilling participant in my own experiment, and generally just unprepared for getting my shit together in the evenings to be able to wake up earlier than half an hour before I need to leave for work.
BUT I finally broke the pattern. The continuous cycle of “I’ll try again tomorrow”.
Here are some survival tips to waking up early.
Preparation is key to making sure your feet stay on the floor and your butt stays out of bed. For me this means packing out my gym clothes the night before, making sure that my lunch has been prepped and that my work clothes are already sorted for the day ahead. It means I feel like I have a few things under control so that the day at least starts off positive.
Make it gradual
So you’re currently sleeping in until 7:30, but you actually want to be up and about at 4:30? There’s no need for you to dive headfirst into the deep end. Start setting your alarm for 15 – 30 minutes earlier than you usually get up, and give yourself a few days to get used to it. Then once your body and schedule has acclimated, set it another 15 – 30 minutes earlier. Soon you’ll be up three hours earlier without feeling like a total grouch for the entire day.
Don’t think about it
The worst thing about waking up in the morning and trying to convince yourself to get out of bed is that you know you’re going to convince yourself to sleep in. Because who knows you better than you? So, don’t think about it. Don’t give yourself time to rationalise why you need a few more minutes under those covers.
Have something to look forward to
This is a favourite for me. Something to look forward to and be willing to get out of bed in the mornings. It can be anything from a specific breakfast (now that we’re in lockdown, that means waffles or scrambled eggs on toast), to a new outfit that you’ve been dying to try out.
Stick it out
Yes, that first week is messy and potentially uncomfortable. You’re still going to miss your bed and wonder what the hell you’re doing up at 5am when you could be getting another two hours worth of sleep. It gets much easier in the second week, and the habit sets in around week 3. Now sleeping in means waking up at 6am instead of at, say, 9am.
Get some actual sleep
I know, right? No brainer, this one. We all know how important sleep is to our wellbeing and to getting up earlier. Except that I didn’t actually pay attention to getting as much sleep as I should have, which led to my downfall in the first place. It was only after I started going to bed earlier and getting quality shut eye that I found myself actually (semi) awake and ready to take on the day.
Establish a routine
It’s easier to move through the motions at 5am feeling like a zombie when there is some sort of plan for you to follow. My morning routine starts with falling over my cats in the pitch black on the way to make coffee. Then it’s time to struggle my way into gym clothes, trip over hungry cats on the way to brushing my teeth… you get the gist of it.
Understand why you’re doing it
It’s easier to stick to something when you have a strong reason for doing it. And the key to continue on this path is to continually remind yourself of why it is important to you. It’s often a personal choice and not something dictated by someone else. Maybe you want a little more quiet time in your day, or you want to start the morning off slowly and give yourself enough time to fully wake up and prepare yourself for the day ahead. Mine was a little more out of necessity. I wanted to hit the gym on an almost daily basis because I know that I struggle to go after work. Waking up a couple extra hours earlier means that I have enough time to fit in a good workout, get a shower and get my day started the right way, so by the time work starts, I feel like I’ve already achieved something. Now that we’re in a mandatory lockdown I stick to waking up early so that I have a few quiet hours in the day to get my life in order before I sit down in front of the computer all day.
And if all else fails….
Set a really obnoxious song as your alarm and set your phone down far away from where your early-morning self can hit the snooze button.
If you have any other early morning tips, feel free to leave them in the comments below. Sometimes we need all the help we can get when it comes to staying out of bed.