The smartest move I’ve made in years was when I began waking up early (around 5:45am now).
So, here’s how you can wake up early:
1) Get Control of Your Alarm Clock
You’ll need to use an alarm clock at first (though you won’t need it two weeks from now!).
What time should you pick? Be gentle with yourself at first — start with just a half-hour earlier than you’re currently waking up.
I recommend you set your alarm to an unusually exact time (I picked 6:07am because I was born in 1967)…it’s been proven that you will be more responsive to unusual times (rather than on-the-hour or half-hour times (e.g. 6:00am or 6:30am) (see The Daily Huddle about starting meetings at odd times).
And try to pick something soothing to wake up to (soft music or a soft voice is fine). If you’re really new-agey then use one of those alarm clocks that has ocean sounds (they also have alarm clock lamps that slowly add light!).
When the alarm goes off, wake up (don’t hit the snooze button!). Trust me: just get your butt out of bed.
Do something affirmative when you wake up. For instance, when I wake up, I put each foot on the floor and say “Thank” (left foot) “You” (right foot) — that starts me off on a positive note.
I promise you that within 5 minutes of waking up you will not feel like going back to bed.
2) Make Your First Activity Warm and Passionate
You should want to wake up earlier to do something you love…so make sure you do!
The first thing I do when I wake up is to have a hot cup of water with fresh lemon juice squeezed into it and some organic honey!
Next, I have a routine for my first activity. I start with my “Hour of Power;” that consists of me sitting in a comfortable chair on the East side of my apartment (where the sun is rising) and writing down a few creative things that I’d like to do for the next hour.
Then I do them! Sometimes it’s reading a book, other times it’s playing guitar and sometimes it’s writing (like this article).
I then go work out for an hour (basketball or yoga).
Whatever you do, don’t start your day with reactive tasks such as reading emails or paying the bills. Go with proactive/creative stuff.
3) Beware Caffeine’s Six-Hour Half-Life
If you consume caffeine (I do), you’re going to need to consume your last sip a bit earlier (I recommend 1pm at the latest).
The reason is that caffeine has what’s called a 6-hour half-life, meaning that if you have a cup of coffee (average of 50 milligrams of caffeine) at 3pm, then you will still have 25 milligrams of coffee at 9pm — it’s the equivalent of you drinking a half-cup of coffee at 9pm at night!
Some of you might say: “I drink caffeine late in the day and still get my eight hours of shut-eye.” I believe you. But your 8 hours probably isn’t very restful sleep…you may wake up groggy (that’s because you didn’t get enough deep sleep).
For those of you hooked on caffeine, just start to wean yourself off of the afternoon habit by switching to decaf (still has some caffeine) or a white tea (has a little caffeine in it) or an herbal tea (no caffeine).
I drink one cup of a black or green tea at about 9:30am and then I have decaffeinated latte (fancy, I know) at about 12noon.
With less caffeine in you at night, you’ll sleep more restfully, and it will be easier for you to wake up early every day!
4) When to Go To Sleep: Have a Book You Love
As you get into this process of waking up early, you’ll begin to naturally get tired earlier at night. This may take about a week.
But what time should you go to sleep? Steve Pavlina recommends simply going to sleep when you’re tired in his terrific How to Become an Early Riser article.
What I do is get into bed 8 to 8 ½ hours before my desired wake up time (e.g. around 9:30pm to wake up at 5:45pm).
I then start reading a book until I’m sleepy.
It’s important to pick a book you love so that you’ll look forward to going to bed! I fall asleep within 30 minutes (that’s how I get my 7 1/2 to 8 hours sleep). .
5) Commit to a Week
Practice your new waking up early for at least seven days…by that time, you will start getting used to it.
You’ll naturally wake up earlier (you won’t even need an alarm clock within about three weeks) and fall asleep earlier too.
You’ll love waking up earlier so much that you’ll test out waking up earlier and earlier until you find the ideal time.
As the saying goes, the early bird really does get the worm.
While I’m a big fan of being an early riser, please remember about the importance of sleep as a form of renewal (see my article on How To Recharge Yourself).
After first writing my How To Be An Early Riser article, I began jotting down examples of other early risers — especially famous early risers.
I thought I’d share those with you: