Waking early is without a doubt one of the biggest changes I have made since starting my personal development journey. Previously I was one of those people who would continually hit the snooze button on his alarm and would only get up when it got to the point where I really had to. Why wake up early then you may ask? Well let me explain how and why I won the Battle of the Bed….
Why Wake Early?
The 2 following reasons are why I decided to start waking early each day:
- I believe that if you wake early each day it is a sign that you are happy with your life. It shows that would are excited about the coming day. It shows that you are motivated to succeed.
- The morning is the best time to work on yourself. Take what Robin Sharma calls a “Holy Hour” to read from the great books, meditate, exercise or some other positive action such as reviewing your goals or personal mission statement. For further ideas of how to spend the morning read my post 24 Daily Habits.
How I Won The Battle of the Bed
Here are what I consider to be the three most important things that have allowed me to start happily waking up early each morning:
- Watch what you eat & drink each night: after 5pm each night I avoid caffeine and sugary foods and drinks. I also avoid alcohol on weeknights. I can guarantee that doing this will make a huge difference to you. Instead of acting like a retarded zombie when I first wake up (my fiancee once called me this) I now bound out of bed full of energy.
- Go to bed early: this can be summed up by the saying: “early to bed, early to rise”. I try to go to bed at 10pm and wake up at 5am during the week. I also suggest reading a novel just before bed, to give your brain an opportunity to wind down.
- Do something you love in the morning: I love reading, I love blogging, I love spending time with my little boy. Waking up early gives me a chance to do these things in the morning. If you hit the snooze button each morning and wake at the last possible opportunity, everything is going to be a rush.
I think its important to note that the benefits of waking early come when you use your extra time productively. Don’t spend too much time “surfing”.
If you are still not convinced or can never see yourself as being an early riser, I would recommend what Steve Pavlina calls a 30-day trial. That is, you don’t need to commit to it forever. Just give it a go and see what impact it has on your quality of life.
If you do follow this approach, do give it the full 30 days as you really need some time to adjust to a new habit. It won’t necessarily be easy to begin with, and I would actually suggest a gradual approach. By this I mean if you traditionally wake up at 7am, don’t set your alarm clock for 5am tomorrow morning. Set it for 6.30am, and when you are comfortable with that, set it for 6am, then 5.30am, and then 5am. I was actually stuck on 5.30am for sometime before I felt comfortable setting my alarm clock to 5am.
If you are considering taking up this challenge, good luck!
Photo by jurvetson
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35 thoughts on “How I Won the Battle of the Bed”
Hmm yes, well okay Pete but sleeping in is a total luxury and I do love it..however, working long hours etc, for me meant that I had no time for training and other stuff so I was forced to get up early or get fat! Once I am up it’s fine, in fact autumn mornings are lovely.
Thanks for the comment Lesley.
I actually find it really hard to sleep in these days. The latest I will sleep in is maybe 7am on a Sunday. Funny how things change….
Amen! I’ve been an early riser since I was 14, and absolutely love it!
There are other advantages to rising early:
*You are ahead of everyone else – If emergencies come up, you’ll be there first. You’ve planned your day better, generally, and can be more proactive rather than reactive.
*Less people around – Lines at the store are shorter, less traffic, quieter environment creates better concentration.
*Saves energy – Generally, you use fewer lights in the am rather than the pm.
* More natural – Animals naturally wake early, so Mother Nature clearly prefers it.
* I’ve never read any credible wisdom preferring staying up late.
Well Said! Rising up early in the morning will soothe our mind and will make us a good decision maker. ‘Early to bed and early to rise’ is not only the popular saying but it is the perfect habit which God, our creator planned for us long ago. When we spend time in His presence the morning, the day ahead will be blessed in whatever we do according to His will.
Thanks for the comment Les – those are some great points!
I am a new convert to early rising but I doubt I could go back. To be honest, I enjoy the knowledge that rising early is something that not everybody does.
I totally agree that rising early is an important part of personal development! When I was in High School,and college, I slept every chance I got. When I became a mother, all of that changed. It forced me to establish routines and habits such as getting up early. Now, a full time working mom, the only way I can work out is if I do it in the mornings. I love to be the first one up, walk outside and see the new day. It is very energizing. The most difficult part for me right now is that evening is the only time I have to work on my blog. Sometimes it is so tempting to stay up late doing that, but it is all about balance.
Thanks for your article.
I’m 100% with you on this. I’ve alternated between early rising and loving the sleep in. When I was younger, single or just before getting married, and living in Manhattan… nothing was better than hanging in bed late on a Saturday, with the paper and coffee. Still sounds pretty good, actually. But no question, I get more done when I get up and go. Running is my latest, and when I slip out before anybody else awakes, all the better. I feel great, like I’ve gotten the jump on life.
One hurdle: kids. We’ve got a 3-year old and an 8 month old. They get up early, yes. But the infant wakes up still at night. And both keep us running most of the rest of the time.
By the time we get them to bed, we’re already bone tired. But that’s the only time we have to be alone with each other, have dinner, or catch up on much needed other stuff. The cycle begins, and we start burning the candle on both ends.
Still, the idea of early rising is a good one.
One of the major benefits of waking early is that the time before dawn is considered very auspicious in scriptures (Brahma Muhurta). If one meditates during this period, he/she will attain thoughtless state faster as positive energies are predominant during this time.
Great post, added to my collection of wake up articles
Unfortunately this kind of advice is useless for about 20% of the population. We, the B-people, are physically incapable of falling asleep early, and it doesn’t matter how may herbal teas we drink or how tired we are. Really, we just can’t do it. It’s not about habit or training or laziness – it’s just the way our bodies and brains work.
For an extended discussion on this topic, see a blog entry of mine:
I never realized I wasn’t an early bird – got up early for school, got up early for office jobs, etc. Finally started working for myself and realized I’m better off getting up at 9-10am and going to bed at 2am. I’m an artist and seem to get a creative second wind after dinner. If I don’t go to bed by 10pm, it just doesn’t happen!
Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. Yes – I fully accept that waking early is not for everyone. My wife still thinks that I am crazy. I think the important thing is not so much waking up at a particular time, but waking up with purpose and looking forward to the day ahead. Also, thanks for the link – I’ll be sure to check it out.
I love this, and this blog. Thank you for writing it, Peter!
I, too, read Robin Sharma’s Greatness Guide this summer, and his lesson of establishing a “holy hour” for your personal growth and development struck a chord with me. I had just left graduate school where I’d inevitably stay up every night until 2-3am, and just have an awful time waking myself up for the day’s activities. There’s nothing worse than waking up and realizing you lost half the day already, which happened to me more often than I liked in school.
During the summer, I had also begun a daily exercise habit, but I luxuriated in my free summer schedule and did it whenever I wanted to. But I knew that once I start my career, I’d have to be at work by 8:30am every morning and knowing myself, I’d get my evenings filled up real quick (or just be too tired from work), to exercise daily in the PM. So I started waking up at 6, then 5:00am, and launch straight into an hour of exercise.
It does take persistence and do-it-or-perish commitment at first, but I do believe that everyone can do this because I now consider myself a morning person, and even three months ago I was your classic night owl. I know that a previous comment mentioned that about 20% of the population simply cannot get up early, but I wondered, if the B types did wake up at 5am, what would happen? Would they suffer serious health consequences or die prematurely, etc.? If that’s not the case, then I’d encourage even the B Type to try to become early risers.
This idea was, and is, extremely popular in Japan and the rest of Asia. They had a huge bestseller a couple of years ago on how to become a morning person.
Sharon: Just to reply to you – I did a lot of research on this topic before I wrote my article. And the problem is that the B-people DO wake up at 5 or 6 or whenever their jobs and family demands, but we feel like crap. Many are actually physically sick – I just wander about in a daze and cannot have a normal conversation. It would, for a normal person, be like waking every day at 2am and being forced to perform normally. I know quite a few B-people who became freelance (translators, graphic designers etc.) just so they could keep from getting ill by being forced to adapt to “normal” life.
By the way, I am writing this at 00:30 and will not be able to sleep for another hour at least. And I still have to get up at 6:30. It’s not the “early rising” that’s the problem – we can do that when forced to – but it’s our inability to go to sleep at “normal” times. If I go to bed at 11 I just lie there and squirm. It just doesn’t work.
This is continually one of my goals – but I never quite make it. I would love to use the time to get in my daily work out – however I do not enjoy working out – but I do it for my health (physical and mental) so you can say I enjoy the after effects. In the same breath – I do not enjoy sleep, but I enjoy the after effects (feeling totally rested). I can never seem to balance these. The worst of all is that my son is a light sleeper, and the dogs are always rather loud when someone gets up (hard wood floors and doggy toenails). If my son wakes up at 5 am – he is not going back to sleep and I will have a grumpy kid the rest of the day. I am open to thoughts! I had no problem getting up early before my son – my job required me to start at 6 am so I was usually up by 4:30 or 5. I know it can be done! :)
Sharon: your experience sounds very similar to mine. During university I was worked Fri & Sat nights in a pub that didn’t close until 3am. I also stayed up late to study most other nights. So I was very much a night owl. Having made the change, I can say that I much prefer being a morning person.
Paddy: your situation is obviously very different from my experience as a night person. That sounds like a horrible way to live. I’m curious, do B-people ever change to being “normal” or is it just something you have to learn to live with?
“Do B-people ever change to ‘normal’?” Oh, how angry this makes me! You really have to do away with your definition of ‘normal’, mister! So, are all early risers as pompeous as you??? Why do you think you are so much better that the night owls? Getting up at a certain clock time (invented by humans might I add) makes one a better person? What a load of crap!!!
I think that refering to “b-people” (and even calling us night owls that!) is horrible. So, you are perfect and normal and we are the rejects of the world??? You guys are the A-team and we are the flip side of the record that no one listens too? Please remember this if you have to rush someone you love to the ER at 2am!!! Would you consider the workers there to be “substandard” people?
You wouldn’t be saying that if YOU were naturally a night owl would you. I don’t consider my night owlness a horrible way to live at all. It is only horrible when sanctimonous writers like yourself try to tell us their is something wrong with us. I have alway thought that eary risers were weirdos!!!
Sure this is your blog and you are just giving out your experience here as you say but don’t put down others that don’t live the same lifestyle you do.
Yes there were periods when I would get up early and be ‘normal’ for a while, though it just didn’t feel right, and I would be out of it by early afternoon, or feel exhausted after a month or two of doing it.
But during those times when I could lapse into my natural rythym of getting to sleep way past midnight, and getting up late, I would be most productive during the day as I wasn’t ‘tired’. I never really understood why I just wasn’t a morning person, perhaps it was bad habits, or maybe it’s just my natural pattern. Even after getting into a more normal pattern of sleeping before midnight and getting up at 6am, it would only take me one weekend before I would relapse back to the old sleeping late habit.
My theory was that for me, and perhaps other people, our sleep patterns don’t conform to 24-hour cycles, it’s more like 30-hour cycles. We sleep longer and also stay awake longer.
OK, my previous post didn’t work right. Trying again:
What bothers me most is the stigma attached to sleeping late and staying up late. I do think there’s a physical reason that some people are “larks” and some “owls,” yet in society there seems to be a lot of disapproval of owls. Much of how we experience these things depends on the words we use about each condition.
Les wrote about why getting up earlier is better:
“You are ahead of everyone else – If emergencies come up, you’ll be there first. You’ve planned your day better, generally, and can be more proactive rather than reactive.”
And if emergencies come up late at night, the night people will be awake to cope. :)
“Less people around – Lines at the store are shorter, less traffic, quieter environment creates better concentration.”
Also so very true of the late-night or wee hours.
“Saves energy – Generally, you use fewer lights in the am rather than the pm.”
Can’t argue with that one. :)
“More natural – Animals naturally wake early, so Mother Nature clearly prefers it.”
Tell that to my cat, who used to be nocturnal but now sleeps all the time! Seriously, I just heard about a study which indicates that about 5 percent of rats naturally stay up later and sleep later, and it may be true of humans as well. The theory is that this helps the survival of a community–in essence, you have built-in night watchpeople.
“I had just left graduate school where I’d inevitably stay up every night until 2-3am, and just have an awful time waking myself up for the day’s activities. There’s nothing worse than waking up and realizing you lost half the day already”
But you didn’t lose half of the day, if you call a 24-hour period a day! Maybe you missed someone’s office hours, but at least you were up and doing something while others were sleeping. (If it was graduate school, even watching TV was surely crucial winding-down time. :) ) I’m productive into the wee hours, but people often act as if I must be sleeping 16 hours a day. Not fair.
“I think the important thing is not so much waking up at a particular time, but waking up with purpose and looking forward to the day ahead.”
Now that’s the trick. :)
I’ve always been a morning person so I understand the benefits of having extra time before work to devote to the things that are important to me. Its a wonderful feeling to know that I’ve accomplished so much before even heading into the office.
I always feel bad if I can’t get up before 6.30am. It makes a big difference to be able to get up early. But, I wish sometimes the body was more responsive …
Why does everybody forget that there are millions of people all working shifts! I work evenings (until midnight every day). I find that I’m a total mess in the mornings, as my brain can’t wake up if I attempt to get up too early, but I get that amazingly peaceful time of the day which is between 12-3am:This is when I get my ideas on how to save the world!
It is probably like your early morning “fix” except mine is at the other end of the day! I am still the first on the scene when it comes to a crisis and I’m really organized; I do really understand your early mornings, but opted for the evenings as I find the days too crowded for me.
Diversity is the key… find you niche and make it work for you. x
I’m not exactly sure how I found my way here in the endless world that is the blog-o-sphere but now that I’m here, I like the writing! And this post I find particularly interesting…the thing is, years ago I interned at Merrill Lynch (Global Private Client Division) in Downtown Los Angeles. I woke up at 4:15am to arrive at work at about 5:15am – 5:30am. I gave myself enough time to read/listen to the news and have a morning coffee. It was also enough time to think about my day and everything else that was going on in my mind and my life. The truth of it all is, I’ve never felt so much enthusiasm to get started with my day…I’ve never felt so much clarity with all things in my life. Waking up early gave me a sense of peace and clarity. I felt like the world was still asleep and I had a head-start to reflect on everything. It was a rushing experience and I gathered a lot from it.
This continues to be the case today though the schedule is more like up at 6:30am – 7:00am and occasionally, I wake up later than that. But the fact is, when I do wake up early, I feel like I’m in tune with life (and this is important). If I’m not, it’s because I need to exercise better time management or reflect on my goals just a bit more.
Anyway, I just wanted to share…
Nice to meet ya Peter.
Read you later!
I am now an early riser but once as an adolescent I woke at around 2pm to find the bible opened to this page: Proverbs 20:13 (Do not love sleep or you will grow poor; stay awake and you will have food to spare.). It hit me like a ton of bricks and though it took years for me to adapt I’ve always known that getting up early is just “right”. Nice article.
I often sleep until 4 in the afternoon. I am a fully functioning adult, and I do in fact like my life. I honestly prefer retarded zombies to overly chipper (and sanctimonious) morning folk. But that’s just me . . .
Are you a House fan? That is by far my favorite show. I own all of the seasons. I remember the episode you are speaking of. I haven’t missed a show in the past 3 1/2 years.
I recognize the importance of waking early – still struggling with it, though. It;s tough! My trouble is I just won’t go to bed!
If I could wake up early and feel great physically, then I would be ecstatic. But, I am not, and I’ve led the early-riser life for the past 10 years as a “night” person; I feel terrible and my immune system is not optimal. Luckily, I am able to balance my life out with a healthful weekend living. I work a 9/80, so I do get a chance to recuperate, because, I must tell you, going against my internal clock for this long has been an assault to my biological system.
I believe the term you ought to use when discussing a person’s biological clock is “Circadian Rhythm.” Yes, we all have it (all species, actually), and it is fairly genetically fixed, meaning your DNA helps you out even when you want to take 100% credit for your own merits.
Of course, with diligent training, one can artificially alter one’s circadian rhythm. One can indeed wake up at wee hours in the morning, like I do daily. However, like Paddy, I feel physically ill, and I actually put on weight if I am not careful in monitoring myself.
There are many biological factors in why waking up early is easier for some and not for others. Much of one’s circadian rhythm dictates endocrine levels (i.e. hormonal secretion of melatonin, cortisol, etc.).
I remember having a conversation with another fellow “night” person on the topic of this post-modern endeavor in keeping the agricultural hours (farming hours which coincide with “natural” clock of our animal friends). Is this natural for all persons? Not quite. Then the existence and science behind circadian rhythm should be an obsolescence. By the way, he does show similar physical symptoms as I do, which put me at ease. I thought thatI was chronically ill, for the longest
Anyhow, we all have to do what we have to do to make a living. I would prefer it if the world does not operate based on the hours of the agricultural era. Now is the time when we actually rely on more cephalic functions than our brawns. The production hours need to tailor more to the most productive hours for individuals within that particular field of work.
We want our physicians alert and error-free when they’re operating on us. No more surgical instruments left inside and being sutured up like a stuffed whatever. No more misdiagnosis. This also relates to sleep deprivation, not just going against one’s circadian rhythm, of course. It’s not a mutually-exclusive topic.
Popularly, saving energy when a working day begins early, some contend? All offices that open early in the morning have lights and their electronic equipments running. The same expenditures are occuring during early hours as they do at nights. More energy expenditure happens, if you think logically, because we also have to keep our internal environment’s temprature cool for those who work a “normal” 8 to 5, especially during summer.
Oh, what I would not give to feel physically ill when I am working! I feel as though someone has beaten me up and my muscles are extremely tense. My eyeballs actually feel tighter and pressure builds up. No, I am not suffering from Glaucoma. I’ve already checked myself out. My cortisol level is high, a physician tells me.
During the weekend, when I sleep in until 8:30 or 9:00 a.m., and naturally awake without an alarm clock, I feel very refreshed. I am smarter, happier, and more productive during the weekend. Just like my college days when I and many others considered me a serious scholar. Fast-forward the time, here I am, as a 35 year-old analyst, much of the thinking and analytical part of my work happens during my weekend hours when I am actually in my physically optimal state. My performance during the work hours is erratic, to me, at best.
It is a serious conundrum for those of us who have to align ourselves with those who share a different biological clock. We all like to tout “everyone is unique” only when it comes to our character attributes. Well, folks, we are physically unique on many levels as well, especially when it comes to your respective endocrine levels.
However, I would love to some day, perhaps in my 20th year, conquer my own biological rhythm and align myself to the “normal” hours of the masses/majority.
Thank you for a great, encouraging website.
I am a night person, I would wake at 11am and be awake until 3 or 4 am.
Now I do all of the same, but it wasn’t intentional. I followed a 10 day silent meditation course, from 4am until lights out at 10pm. This gave me the pattern of waking and going to bed early, now it has become habit.
I can still stay awake until late and sleep out in the weekends.
Sorry but I don’t really agree with this article. Esp if you read a lot of comments from those of us who are incapable of doing this. This article sounds like it was written by someone who doesn’t have much of a schedule and has the freedom to set her own sleep schedule. Being a early rise or a “night owl” has been studied and it is found to be in the genes. Unfortunately those of us who are night owls (even if we wish to be the other) can’t function on this sort of schedule. It is more important to get the sleep you need rather than force yourself into a schedule that is not natural for you. Don’t forget we live in a 24 hr world – some people have jobs where they work evening and grave yard shifts. What do you intend to tell those people? It is not “natural” because the rest of the animals in the world do it either – uhm, my cats sleep almost all day and there are plenty of nocturnal animals who are more active in a dark of the night. Animals don’t follow human time/clocks and schedules like we do so I think it is an incomplete comparision. I am a night owl.. I feel best at night. Making me get up early (before 9am) is the most tortorous thing in the world. Of course unfortunatley I have to do sometimes because that is how the world is set up. Articles like these make us genetic night owls feel bad – like we are lazy or there is something wrong with us. Well, wihile the early risers are sleeping at 10 pm, I am being productive. It is really just a matter of thinking out of the box and changing your mind to what is “normal”. Believe me I have tried to change it (I agree with the caffeine thing definatley) and have been unsuccessful. It is best to follow your own bodys rhytms in my opinion because it is more important to get restorative sleep than to conform yourself to the opinion of what someone else thinks is the better lifestyle.
These tips make me good and also i have confident from that. I will welcome more and more as like a useful tips. Thanks lot for this.
that was motivating!
Yes, this is a very good article and from today i will try my best level for early waking. No doubt it is a hard exercise in the begining but so good exercise…..