Is it true that early risers are more likely to be successful? According to Harvard Biologist, Christoph Randler, the answer is yes. With case studies of people like Apple CEO Tim Cook (4am alarm), Richard Branson (5am) and Michelle Obama (4:30am), it’s hard to argue. But waking up early has a way of changing mindset and preparing you for the day. It also builds subconscious habits that are likely to put you ahead in life and in business. Early risers all demonstrate stronger traits of:
What helps to wake you up early?
The number one tip for getting up early is having a good reason. Motivation can change habits and influence thought patterns in a way determination can’t. Your motivation should be clear, specific, and personal. It shouldn’t simply be that early risers are more productive and happier – it should be specific to you and speak to your felt needs and wants. Once you fully understand your motivation, these next ten steps are tools to help you maintain a new daily habit.
Check your lifestyle
Exercise has been proven to improve sleep, helping you fall asleep faster and sleep more deeply. It also helps with anxiety, stress, and depression – conditions that often keep people awake longer. A healthy diet also plays a big part in your sleep. Foods that are slow-absorbing and increase energy such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins will not only help you stay energised throughout the day but also help you fall asleep at night.
The biggest cause of late sleep in 2021 is having electronics near the bed. Social media, streaming channels, and endless links can end up lasting hours and prevent you from falling asleep. The blue light from screens has also been shown to cause eye strain and prevent deep sleep. It may not be enough to turn your device off either. If you are truly addicted to your screen then the best option is to get someone else to “guard” it overnight. Invest in an analogue alarm clock that won’t tempt you to open other apps when you set it. Then go to bed when you planned to.
Go to bed early
It seems obvious, but this is key in waking up early. Our bodies will wake us up naturally once they are well rested, but if you continually go to bed late, your body will never feel rested enough and waking up early will be that much harder. The average person needs 6-9 hours of sleep. You may need to track the outcome of sleeping for different lengths of time before you know exactly how much you need, but make sure that you have at very least six hours between falling asleep and waking up.
Hack your sleep cycles
While you sleep your body goes through cycles of sleep, starting in light sleep, progressing into deep sleep (REM) and then returning to light sleep again. Each cycle lasts around 90 minutes. If you try to wake up while in deep sleep, you will struggle to wake up properly and not feel sleepy. But if you wake up at the end of a cycle, just before the new cycle starts, you are giving your body its best chance at being alert right from that first alarm. Try calculating your sleep cycles from the time you go to sleep and work out the best time to wake up. Some devices, including smart watches, also include a feature to help you get the most out of your natural sleeping rhythm.
Wake up gradually
Although it may work for some to jump out of bed as soon as they hear the alarm, most people don’t respond well to abrupt wake-ups. Instead, set 2 alarms. The first alarm will wake you up enough to prepare you for getting out of bed. The second one is the time you actually intend to get up. This will give you a chance to mentally prepare for the day.
Do something you love
If your only goal is to be productive you are less likely to want to get out of bed. In the same way people put off chores, people put off waking up if they know what follows is unpleasant, boring, or stressful. Give yourself something to look forward to in the morning. This could be a morning yoga session, half an hour with a good book, or a cooked breakfast. Whatever you enjoy, add it to your morning routine to encourage yourself to get out of bed.
Studies have linked morning sunshine exposure with better sleep patterns. Early morning fresh air and nature are also surprisingly good at waking you up. If you can’t go on a walk or get out into a garden or park, open a window and let some fresh air in. You’ll be amazed at the difference it makes to waking up. The stale air we often breathe during the night is usually oxygen poor, unlike the air outside. By getting outside and filling your lungs, you rejuvenate brain and heart function and improve mood and focus.
Make your bed
It’s a simple task, but making your bed in the morning helps you to accomplish something before you’re even dressed, giving you a positive mindset for the rest of the day. It also helps to stop you from getting back into bed because your bed will look less inviting and cosy, and you would have to undo all the work you just did.
Having a morning routine is vital in waking up early. If you have to think about your next task, you are more likely to roll over and go back to sleep. Plan out your morning in detail – include things like brushing your teeth. Then stick to your routine. If you struggle to make decisions in the morning, use the night before to plan what you will wear, what you will eat, or what book you want to read when you get up.
Stick to it
Don’t underestimate the power of routine. Once your body has adjusted to early bedtime and early mornings, you will wake up early naturally. Resist the urge to sleep in on weekends because it could damage all the hard work you’re putting in and take months longer to form a healthy sleep pattern.
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