On Becoming an Early Riser


Mornings are my favorite time of the day. There is a quietness and a stillness before the day begins. Biologically, we are tuned to wake up with the sun and if you have kids you know that it's nice to be up before they are. 

But it can be too easy to hit the snooze button and for the last few months, that's exactly what I've been doing. My job starts later in the morning so I don't have to wake up until 9am. By doing this I lose a good 2 or 3 hours of sunlight and the precious dawn. 

This ends today. I'm setting a goal to wake up at 7:00am everyday by the end of the month.

Here's how I'll do it:


Sleeping Plan A

I have had to change my sleeping patterns many times in my life. Sometimes I successfully woke up earlier and felt healthy. Other times I couldn't find a way to wake up early or I felt extremely tired when I did.

Sleeping Plan A is to change my wake up time immediately.

1. Set the alarm for 7:00am

Getting up 2-3 hours earlier shouldn't be as hard as it seems. We have to adjust to waking up at different times when we travel and rising with the sun is more natural for our bodies anyways. The challenging aspect is keeping the new rising time consistent. 

2. Get to bed when tired

As soon as the eyes begin to fade, go to sleep. To more easily allow this it's good to schedule about 2 hours at the end of the day as a "free hours" with no obligations. Instead of setting a bedtime, set a block of time when you might fall asleep.

You can also try creating a night ritual without computers, television, or smart phones. 

3. Take naps if needed

It's OK to sleep during the day if the body is tired. Again, when we travel we are forced to change our sleeping habits temporarily to a different sunrise and sunset. In a similar way, we can forcer ourselves to wake up at a different time without traveling. Making it permanent is what is difficult. 

4. Morning Routine

By doing this I will have more reason to get out of bed.  

  1. Meditate. First I will sit quietly for a few minutes. 
  2. Take Photographs. This is what I love to do. Doing something fun will get me excited to leap out of bed. 
  3. Run. I am a runner and I'll run a couple mornings a week.
  4. Write. For those days I don't run, I'll write. 
  5. Enjoy a cup of coffee with a small breakfast. Then it's time for the day.


Sleeping Plan B

If the first plan doesn't work, I'll try changing waking times in smaller increments. If I wake up today at 9:00, then tomorrow I'll wake up at 8:45 and I won't wake up earlier until 8:45 feels natural. I hesitate to believe this works better than the first. Partly because things that are easier do not always work better.

Some things, like training for a marathon, involve gradual change: 10 miles this week, 15 miles next week, etc. But I'm only waking up a couple hours earlier. This is like doing 2 mile runs and nothing more. Running a marathon could be compared to sleeping on an uberman schedule. 


Do want to wake up earlier or not feel tired in the morning?