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How I Turned Myself Into An Early Riser

I’ve always wanted to be an early riser. Most of the ultra-successful people I’ve met seem to wake up sometime between the hours of 4-6am. It’s almost as if they get a head start on the rest of us in those peaceful morning hours while most of us are still in bed.

I’ve tried all sorts of things over the past decade to try and wake up earlier, but unfortunately I’ve always lost the battle against my snooze button. I’ve walked into work or school five minutes late hundreds of times in my life. And every single time I’ve been unnecessarily stressed as I literally run into the office, meeting, or lecture hall.

Over the past two weeks though I’ve implemented three small rules which have made a huge difference in the quality of my sleep. And I’ve been able to wake up sometime from 5:40-6:00am every day since. Here are the three rules I put into place to make it happen.

1. No staring at shiny rectangles after 9pm

Many recent studies have shown that watching TV or playing on the internet before bedtime leads to poorer sleep. Here are a couple good articles on the subject:

In order to get myself ready for bed earlier I simply made the rule of “no staring at shiny rectangles after 9pm.” So instead of watching TV or playing around on the internet, I’ll talk to a friend on the phone, get my things ready for the next morning, or read a book. This has helped me get to bed at sometime between 9:00 and 10:00 most evenings since making the change. I’ve also noticed the quality of my sleep has been much better. I’ve been sleeping deeper and dreaming a lot more.

2. Move my cell phone to the opposite side of the room

This simple change has made all the difference in the world. All I did is move my cell phone charger from the plug next to my bed to the plug on the opposite side of my bedroom. When my alarm goes off I have no choice but to get out of my incredibly comfortable bed and walk a good ten feet over to turn off the alarm.  I’ve found it’s so much easier to resist the temptation of my warm, comfy bed when I’m far away from it instead of still inside of it. After waking, I stumble over to either the shower or my yoga mat and before I know it I’m up!

3. Do things that make me happy as soon as I wake up

For the past couple of days when I wake up, I immediately put on some ambient music on Pandora and walk directly to my yoga mat. As part of my November Detox it’s a goal of mine to do yoga every morning, which so far has helped me to start my day off feeling great.  After my yoga practice I take a shower and enjoy a warm breakfast. Then I leave for work while it’s still dark and miss all the morning traffic. Once I get to work, I get to enjoy that first quiet hour before anyone else gets to work. I’ve found it’s a magical hour of extreme productivity. No interruptions, just pure quiet.

Another thing I’ve done in the past when experimenting with waking up early is writing morning pages. 30 minutes of pure stream of consciousness writing. I found it was a good way to start my day off with an exercise in creativity. I might go back to writing them, but for now I’m happy with my yoga, breakfast, and being one of the first ones in the office.

The important thing though is to find things that make you happy and then do them with that extra time. It’s a much better way to start your day than waking up late and rushing to work.

If you’ve always been a late riser like myself, maybe think about making some of these small changes. And let me know how it goes!

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