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O/T: HEALTH How to Wake Up Early (Or at least...earlier)

Invictus

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I’ve seen a bit of interest during my time here from users who want to wake up early. Recently, I’ve managed to adjust my wake-up time to around 6 AM, which is something I haven’t done since high school.

Being an early riser is something that I’ve long wanted to be, but I never quite got to stick. Things are looking quite good this time however, and I thought some users may get a bit of value from it.

Before I say anything else, waking up early does not automatically make you productive. It’s not some big ‘secret’ that will single-handedly change your life. Much like working out, cold showers, or stimulants* it is a tool. It may be right for you, it may help you, it may be a giant action fake because you ‘need to wake up at 4 AM before I can get started on my Fastlane business’

*Don’t do stimulants, kids


Anyway, without further ado…


How to Stop Sucking at Being an Early Riser

First Things First…

Do You Actually Need to Wake Up Earlier?

Look, without a doubt, waking up earlier in morning is a simple way to reclaim some time. Maybe to work on your business, stop rushing to work, or just have some peace and quiet before the day starts.

But do you need to? In a previous thread, I read a great point that eliquid made. Why not just stay up later and work? Working two hours later into the night and waking up two hours earlier have more or less the same affect (all else being equal).

Personally, I’ve found my brain begins to shut down around 8. Sometimes I can stay up late and crank out some good work, but those times are the exception.

Don’t try and adjust your sleep schedule to be an early riser because of some mythical ‘this is what productive people do’ idea. It’s not about what other people do, it’s about what works for you.

So, if you’ve always done good work at night, why throw that away?

Note, I said good work. Not frantic, last-minute essay writing fueled by Monster Energy and self-loathing.

Second Things Second…

Get Your F*cking Sleep

Look, I’m sorry to tell you this. But if you want to wake up at 5 AM, then going to bed at 2 AM isn’t going to cut it.

There are certain people who only need 4-6 hours of sleep a night to function perfectly. You’re not one of them.

Get your 7-8 hours. If you don’t, modern medicine says you’re going to suffer for it. Not just by being exhausted, but by increased chances for future health issues.

For me, I’ve found I need around 9 hours. Probably because I have a sleep debt accumulated from god-awful habits from Elementary School to College. I also suffered from insomnia which really screwed me over.

Hopefully, as I get older, and as I develop better sleep hygiene, I’ll need less.

Studies tend to show that out of the top three things you can do to be healthy (Sleep, Diet, and Exercise) sleeping tends to be the most important.

Your body needs sleep. You’re not a badass because you’re operating on two hours and crushed up caffeine pills. Frankly, you’re a loose cannon that puts everyone at risk whenever you get behind the wheel.

Now, if you’re sure you want to wake up earlier and you’re getting your required sleep, here is some real advice.


Stop Trying to be an Early Riser from Day One

This is where most people screw up. It’s where I’ve screwed up.

Picture this.

An overweight man, let’s call him Charlie, has unhealthy habits. He wakes up less than an hour before work, rushes through his morning routine and grabs McDonald's breakfast on the way. For lunch he has whatever his friends at the office decide to order from. Throughout the day he has a few sodas. He goes home and for dinner may order take-out, pick up fast food, or, if he’s feeling frisky, make something tasty.

Now, Charlie has decided that he has had enough of being out of shape. Good for him! He’s going to make a change.

Starting tomorrow he’s going to eat healthy.

He wakes up a bit earlier and makes a tasty smoothie of oats, chia seeds, plain yogurt, and a spoonful of honey.

Oh wait, did I say tasty? Because I lied. It tastes terrible.

He doesn’t finish it and goes to work.

At work, he sips plain, unsweetened green tea. For lunch, while his colleagues chow down on delicious BBQ, he eats a salad without dressing.

How long do you think Charlie can keep this up?

Not long.

Eventually, he’s going to say “Screw this!”


Tip 1: Small Changes First

It’s the same with trying to be an ‘early riser’.

If you’re like me back when I wasn’t getting enough sleep, you’ll try and resolve all of your morning problems in one swoop.

“I’m going to wake up at 6 AM tomorrow, even though I normally wake up at 10!”

“Then, I’m going to go for a run!”

“After that, I’ll have a healthy breakfast and get to work early!”

Yea…you’re not going to do that.

You’re asking a lot of yourself when you demand all of these sudden changes. Don’t try and do it all. For one, it’s too much and you won’t be able to keep the momentum going. For two, it sucks.

Wake up half an hour earlier. That’s it. After you’ve done that, push it a bit further back.

Once waking up at an earlier time is part of your day to day routine, then you can start being ‘productive’ with it. But only after getting up earlier has become the ‘standard’ for you should you opt or a run or going to the gym.

My girlfriend almost fell into this trap. When we decided to wake up earlier, she wanted to have a nice breakfast and do a thirty-minute intense yoga session right off the bat.

After the first day, she was not on board.

Instead, we decided that waking up would be the ‘goal’. If she woke up early, then that’s enough. She can be proud of that. If she decides that she has enough time and energy to do yoga, well that’s fantastic.

And she doesn’t even have to do the yoga session that’s designed to be a tough work out. Instead, she can do a shorter, easier one.

Pick the battles you can win. You’re in this for the long haul.


Tip 2: Make Getting Up Something You Want to Do

This goes hand in hand with the previous section.

If you wake up, and you really want to just crawl deeper under the covers and fall asleep, why would you get out of bed and go for a run? Especially if you hate exercising?

Instead, use your newfound time for something you want to do. Forget all of the gurus and life-hackers that tell you to ‘meditate’, journal, or whatever.

If you want to do them, sure. But don’t try and force them on yourself.

Because if you do, you’re going to have to make the choice to enjoy the comforts of bed or doing a chore.

And when you’re still half asleep, you’re not going to make the good decision.

Instead, do something you really want. Maybe you would like a nice breakfast, to enjoy a cup of coffee and a book, or just a bit of silence before you have to get your kids ready for school.

Trust me, this is going to make life a lot easier.

Don’t make the very first thing you have to do be a make a tough decision. Choosing between great pleasure and later guilt when your brain is still warming up is a really bad way to start off your morning.


Tip 3: Accept That the Universe is a Cruel, Uncaring Void

You can blame this one on other people.

People like to make it seem like they jump out of bed bright eyed and bushy tailed. That when their alarm goes off, their eyes open wide and they leap from under the covers. They’re excited to take on the day, they’re full of energy.

They’re full of something all right…:shit:

Maybe it’s just me, but I’ve found much more success when I accepted that “I am not going to be wide awake first thing in the morning.” No matter how much I sleep.

Instead, I have to accept the fact that waking up is kind of shitty. Even if I sleep for an extra hour.

So, stop trying to wake up fresh and rejuvenated. When you open your eyes, accept that this is as good as it’s going to get while you’re in bed. Going back to sleep is not going to help you at all.

Your life can’t always be fun and easy. Sometimes, you have to embrace things that suck (this is where having something to look forward to helps).

For some reason, I had it in my head that being an early riser meant waking up full of life and motivation. So I was really bummed out when I discovered I was mortal and this wasn’t feasible.

That said, once I said to myself “Getting up is going to suck, but I’ll have plenty of time to warm up. I can enjoy a book and a cup of coffee without worrying about anything” it was much easier to manage.

Because now, when I open my eyes, I think, “Okay. This kind of sucks, but going back to sleep won’t make it any better.” And then, I accept it and get moving.


Tip 4: It’s On You

Okay, so, here’s the thing.

Those tips I gave you, they helped me. They helped me a lot.

That said, at the end of the day, it’s still on you.

There is never a magic formula or silver bullet.

If you want to do something, you have to be the one to do it. When the morning comes, you are the one who decides if you slide out of bed and take on the day…

Or if you hit the snooze button and curl back under the covers.

There’s no magic formula. It’s about trying it, adjusting to what fits you best…

And getting it done.

~~~~

I’ll leave you with this quote from Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations


At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I am rising to do the work of a human being. What do I have to complain about, if I’m going to do what I was born for—the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?” — But it’s nicer here …

So were you born to feel “nice”? Instead of doing things and experiencing them? Don’t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can? And you’re not willing to do your job as a human being? Why aren’t you running to do what your nature demands? — But we have to sleep sometime… Agreed. But nature set a limit on that — as it did on eating and drinking. And you’re over the limit. You’ve had more than enough of that. But not of working. There’s still more of that to do.

You don’t love yourself enough. For if you did, you’d love your nature too, and what it demands of you
 

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Last edited:

Musashi

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Great stuff, thanks.

I would like to add the following:

1. Once the alarm rings, remember that you decided to wake up at X o'clock yesterday. You could have decided to sleep longer, but you didn't. The decision-time is over now, buddy - its time to execute and stay true to your words!

2. Use the app "alarmy". It works like a charm for me. Unlike other apps you cannot switch off your phone during the alarm. That is gold for me because I always did that. Plus you have the option to turn the alarm off by taking a picture, for example of your vase in the bathroom. There really is no other option than getting out of bed and snapping that picture.

3. Use a gentle alarm tone (like singing birds or similar) that slowly increases with volume. You might be surprised how gently you can wake up this way.

4. Establish a morning routine.
 

AdamMaxum

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Thanks for sharing. All good points.

The best way to get up early feeling 'good' is going to bed earlier and not drinking the night before. Be in bed by 10pm and 6am should be easy...easier anyway.
 

FREEWOLF

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Great post, thanks for sharing.

As I was reading this I immediately thought of that quote from Marcus Aurelius and wanted to post it, but you beat me to it :D

Cold showers are great in the morning to get started.

Also, don't drink coffee before breakfast, you'll just lose appetite for the rest of the morning and crash.

Rep +
 

Arun Siva

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I've read something similar to this before. nonetheless sound advice;

polished routines + perfection of a process permeates into prominence.
 

Fpm9

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I wake up early 5 days a week because of my day job, but on weekends I don't set up an alarm. I usually go to bed at 11, and wake up around 8. I could set up an alarm at 6 or 7, but I feel much better and productive this way. I'd rather sleep more than waking up at 5, feel miserable for the next 6 hours, brag about how I woke up soooo early, then take a nap in the afternoon. Unfortunately I need at least 8 hours of sleep a night :(
 

ValueGenerator

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Great Post! I work from home on the west coat and work east coast hours so this has been a part of my life for about two years now. I have never been good about waking up and I feel you have described several salient methods here that truly can help. I just finished Daniel Pink's new book "When". He does some interesting analysis in there about the type of person you (ie: Owl/Lark) are and how to identify that and leverage the waves of the day to increase productivity.
 

Tullygetsfree

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Bring this thread back to life! Because this is a struggle, for real.

2. Use the app "alarmy". It works like a charm for me. Unlike other apps you cannot switch off your phone during the alarm. That is gold for me because I always did that. Plus you have the option to turn the alarm off by taking a picture, for example of your vase in the bathroom. There really is no other option than getting out of bed and snapping that picture.

3. Use a gentle alarm tone (like singing birds or similar) that slowly increases with volume. You might be surprised how gently you can wake up this way.
I tried the app, and it did help the first day! But now I've found how to set "quick alerts" and I'm doomed again...

Also, I'm using a gentle alarm with increasing volume, and I wake up when it's already shouting and cursing me :rofl:

HALP!!!
 

Never1

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4 days per week, I get up at 3:30am and I’m in bed by 9pm. Sometimes 9:30 and at the latest 10pm (rarely)

My routine for these early mornings is simple. Get up as soon as the alarm goes off. No snoozing. No laying there for a minute. Get up. Get up, now.

I get dressed, brush my teeth and hop in my car. Drive to the nearest coffee shop drive thru for a large cup of coffee (10 minute round trip) with an audiobook on, to get my brain going, and by the time I get back to the house I’m sitting in my office before 4am and quite alert, coffee in hand. I’ll eat an apple and some nuts or cheese or something like that, then get the coffee into me.

I get a solid 2.5hrs-3hrs of uninterrupted time to work on my Saas programming before the kids wake up.

The only days I don’t get up early are when I’m gigging (which is 3 nights per week avrg) and I don’t go for a drive when my wife is working nights at the hospital. (Obviously can’t leave young kids alone in the house even if they are asleep lol)

I fished lobster for 10+ years and was trained to get up early by my dad. It’s the best time of day. I get more done in 3hrs than I can get done in 7hrs of normal daytime
 

Tullygetsfree

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Wow, that's some routine! I couldn't keep up with just 6 hours of sleep, how do you do that?

Get up as soon as the alarm goes off. No snoozing. No laying there for a minute. Get up. Get up, now.
I'll try this tomorrow! :bicep:
 

v1vr

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Another tip I would suggest is staying hydrated...as I just sat here all day and drank maybe 10 oz of water.

Drinking water before bed will usually get you out of bed in the morning to go to the bathroom. Drinking water when you wake up provides a huge boost of energy and gets you going. But, I've found that doing both of those doesn't really do much if you're not staying hydrated throughout the day.

Two weeks ago I was drinking 3L of water a day and I had no problems waking up at 6am to go to the gym or go out for a run. I fell off the bandwagon the past week and a half and I'm really struggling with my mornings again. I drink more coffee throughout the day than I do water.
 

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Tullygetsfree

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I just leave the phone on the table, on the other side of the room!
This doesn't work for me - I just get up, take the phone, snooze the alarm and take the phone back to bed so I don't have to get up again to re-snooze... :happy:

Another tip I would suggest is staying hydrated...
I'll try this! I noticed today that I'm not drinking much water these days. I'll let you know, thanks! :thumbsup:
 

TTG SS

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I've been waking up at 5am for about 4 months now and on the weekends I'll sleep in till 6am. Not long ago I couldn't climb out of bed without hitting the snooze 10 times. I will write up a post on the process that I've used to change but it really boils down to changing your identity from a "non morning person" to a morning person.

One of the best investments I've ever made in myself is having a solid, strict morning routine. Also phone is on airplane mode from the time I go to bed till after I've gone through my routine.

Also, get yourself an Oura Ring. Best $300 I've ever spent and it will add years to your life.
 

Never1

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Wow, that's some routine! I couldn't keep up with just 6 hours of sleep, how do you do that?
I’m just one of those guys who can get by on 5hrs- 6hrs of sleep. The caveat is that I need to be in bed early. Can’t do the 5-6hrs when going to bed at 2am. That is just painful and I can’t function.

As I’m writing this it’s 2:48am. This morning I can’t even sleep to my alarm. Looks like I’m up early lol

I’ll usually sleep in one day a week to sort of catch up on sleep. Might be Sunday or Monday. Depends on my schedule. This week it will be Sunday morning, as I’ll be working late and my wife is on night shift and the kids will be at the grandparents’ for the night. I’ll get to bed around midnight and likely get up around 7am
 

v1vr

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It's 6:26am on the east coast as I'm writing this and I just finished breakfast and am having my coffee.

Drink water.

I drank 2L of water in the last 6-7 hours of my day and I had no issue getting up at 6am today. It's a pretty cold morning too. I fell asleep around 12-12:30am after tossing and turning for an hour, so it's not like it was the lack of sleep that was main thing affecting me. Maybe the fact that today is a rest day and I don't have to run or workout motivated me a little haha.
 

Tullygetsfree

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I will write up a post on the process that I've used to change but it really boils down to changing your identity from a "non morning person" to a morning person.
Looking forward to reading it! Please let me know when you do - either PM me, mention me or let us all now in this thread. ❤

Also, get yourself an Oura Ring. Best $300 I've ever spent and it will add years to your life.
I wear a FitBit, does the Aura Ring do anything different from it?
 

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