Waking up at 5 am is the best thing I’ve done over the last 30 days of my life. I’ve started writing every morning, have begun to meet new and very interesting people, and have seen fresh opportunities opening up. No, my life hasn’t dramatically changed over such a short period of time, but my perspective on what’s possible for me to achieve has certainly shifted, and I’ve become more certain about the big picture.
And all of this is a result of a 30-day challenge I set myself. Let me share with you what I’ve learned over this period, and how it may also benefit you.
I should actually give myself credit for making it through because my mind is very good at negotiating when it comes to whether I should to stay in the bed for another 10, 20, or 40 minutes. And this was definitely the case for the first two weeks.
So why the heck 5 am?
I know people who don’t need to wake up early and so are perfectly comfortable going to sleep late. You’ve got to make it clear to yourself that this is something you want, and not something you’re doing because you’ve read a blog post or watched a video explaining the scientific benefits of getting up early. Of course, there are benefits but the point is, you must decide why you want them.
Like anything else in life, you’ve got to create a strong reason for waking early. I guarantee that without a “why”, you are doomed to fail. You may win the first three days but after that, your brain will tell you to stop undergoing this childish experiment and put you back to sleep — forever. Just joking. There’s no harm in trying.
For example, I knew that I had set some audacious goals for myself and came to the quick realisation that my routine and habits were nowhere near the level I needed to be at to reach my goals. The second reason is that I feel energetic and ultra-productive between the hours of 5 am and 8 am. Every day, I’ve been reminding myself of my “why”.
Get a piece of paper, a journal, your hand, whatever, and write down you why this change is important for you. Would you like to feel different? Have more energy? Maybe there are more projects you’d be able to work on?
Here’s the truth: your mind is smarter than you are so don’t even try to convince it you know better. If it needs to, it’ll put you to sleep when you should stay awake, make you feel lazy when you’re supposed to be productive, or tell you to play it safe when you know you should be taking a risk.
One of the reasons why we don’t stick with our new habits is because we generally underestimate the brain’s ability to persist in the long term. The longer you keep your brain at negotiating with yourself while you’re still in the bed, the less chance you’ll have at winning.
Another contributing factor of this process is, of course, your willingness to be self-disciplined. And discipline is a like muscle — every day, you grow it by doing what you said you’d do. Waking up at 5 am is not rocket science, it’s the simple act of getting your body out of bed. You just need to do it every day, that’s it.
Prepare the night before
No matter how determined you are to wake up at 5 am, you won’t do it consistently if you haven’t done everything right the night before. My main challenge was to go to bed at the same time every day. For the first week of the 30-day challenge, you might just be enthusiastic enough to keep up the consistency. But it won’t last long if you don’t develop the right routine.
Your routine starts the night before:
- Have your last meal at least an hour and a half before you go to bed.
- Make sure you go to sleep at the same time every day.
- It doesn’t matter how many hours you sleep, as long as you’re following your sleep patterns.
- Try not to use your phone or watch movies before you go to sleep. Personally, my screen time is restricted between 9 pm and 7 am.
- Don’t read any books that overly engage your brain.
- You can have a cup of decaffeinated tea with honey. Certain types of teas are believed to help with insomnia or anxiety, however, I drink them only when I want to calm down my mind.
Of course, there are, and will always be, days when I break the routine. Things happen, plus it’s not always good to be so rigid with your self-discipline. But if I do skip a day or two, I make sure I get back to it as quickly as possible.
Focus on productivity
The last 30 days made me rethink some of my goals, especially what I want to do next in my life. After moving from London to Cambridge, I made it clear to myself that I was gonna take time to explore other avenues of my interests. That extra time in the morning provides me with an enormous sense of productivity. And I’m sure it’s not just me who takes advantage of early mornings.
After waking up, taking a shower, and making a cup of coffee, I sit down with my laptop and start writing. From 5:30 to 8 am, I’m on it. These are the most productive times of my day and when I feel most creative. My morning routine will most probably change and evolve, and so it may for you.
Again, I want to remind you that 5 am is not for everyone. Think about why you want to challenge yourself to wake up early, then you can create a list of things you want to do. It could be studying something new, working on a side hustle, or going to the gym.
And remember, it doesn’t have to be 5 am, it can be whatever time you think will make a difference in your life.
Cut the temptation to stay the same
The temptation to turn back to our old habits will always be there. But starting a 30-day 5 am wake-up challenge could be your chance to create opportunities for yourself. Just think about what and how much you could accomplish over just one year, just by changing your routine.
Take into account the fowling benefits:
Energy — imagine how much more you’ll have.
Fewer distractions — you have this time before the rest of the world wakes up and distracting routines begin.
Focus — it’ll become like laser beam.
Time — to do the most important things.
Goals and dreams — when else will you start if it’s not first thing in the morning?
Finally, I want to reiterate that it’s not just about waking up at a certain time, it’s about why you will do it.