I used to be Queen of the Snooze Button.
BEEP, BEEP… Slap.
Just five more minutes… I was up late last night.
BEEP, BEEP… Slap.
Roll over. Chastise myself.
BEEP, BEEP. Slap.
Oh well, damage done. May as well sleep in til my 'real wake-up time'.
Does that sound familiar to you? Do you want to wake earlier but find yourself hitting snooze every morning?
I have by no means perfected the art of rising early, but more mornings than not you will find me up and out of bed between 4:30 and 5:00am.
I don't say that to brag. In fact, the only reason I first began waking early was because I was losing my mind at the lack of alone time during my days and evenings. But the habit has stuck and the benefits are beautiful.
For example, I'm currently sitting on the lounge, hot coffee next to me, sun yet to peek over the horizon. And it's quiet. So lovely and quiet. Some mornings I sit outside and listen to the day unfold. Other times I spend 20 minutes sitting cross-legged on the lounge, emptying my mind. I may plan my day, read a book or work on a writing project.
Whatever I find myself doing in the early hours, I do it for me. And while I feel like a selfish jerk even writing those words, I know that I am a better parent, wife, daughter and friend if I get time to myself every day. Over time, it's become a non-negotiable.
It's not always easy to get up, especially now during winter, and if I'm short on sleep or feeling burnt out, I happily let sleep back in. It's all about sitting comfortably in my rhythm rather than forcing a routine on to myself, and it works for me. But the benefits make it worthwhile – which is often all I need to rememeber when I'm tempted to hit the snooze button.
Beautiful Benefits to Rising Early
Waking at sparrows means you can experience any number of beautiful things. You can:
- watch the sun rise
- enjoy the quiet, uninterrupted time
- work on a project for an hour or two before the day has begun
- work on a hobby
- exercise in the morning air
- listen to the birdsong
- relish the fact that the day has started on your terms
- meditate, pray or practice mindfulness
- enjoy the simple pleasure of a tea or coffee
- be up, dressed and ready for the day before the rest of the house wakes
Tips on Rising Early
1. Choose to adjust gradually, or do it suddenly.
Leo Babauta recently wrote a helpful guide on becoming an early riser. He suggests a gradual shift of 10-15 minutes every few days until you reach your ideal wake-up time. This means you're less likely to suffer from exhaustion or hitting the snooze button repeatedly.
This gradual approach may work perfectly for you. But when I started waking early I simply set my alarm for 4:30am and got up. If I was going to hit the snooze button and drag my feet, I'd do it at any time of the morning. So I just jumped right in.
2. Make yourself get out of bed.
I use my iPad as my alarm. Leaving it to charge overnight means it's on the other side of the room, so when the alarm goes off (quietly enough not to wake anyone else) I jump out of bed to turn it off as quickly as possible. Sometimes I get back into bed if I'm feeling particularly tired, but otherwise I move into my morning rhythm.
3. Go to bed earlier.
Lately I've slipped into a bad habit of going to bed a little later. Sparky and I have been enjoying some Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones once the kids are in bed, and the hour less sleep is showing – mostly under my eyes.
7-8 hours sleep is what I aim for, which means I need to be in bed by 9:30. Usually I am so tired that getting in to bed by then shouldn't be a problem, but I really look forward to the time I get to spend with Ben and it's so easy to get pulled later in to the evening.
Establish how much sleep you need to function well and work backwards. What's your bedtime goal? Then aim to meet it every night for a week and see how you feel.
4. Have a good reason to get up.
I get up for the quiet and I get up to write. Both of those things are important to me, so I am excited to wake up in the mornings. (Usually.)
If you need added motivation to get out of bed earlier, have something to look forward to or a particular reason for getting up. Be it exercise, a hot coffee on the back deck, reading a book uninterrupted, yoga, a warm shower… Whatever it is that sparks a little fire in your belly – make that your reason to get up early. Trust me, it helps on those chilly mornings.
Waking early has given me so much. Without the early starts I wouldn't have written my book and I would still be feeling resentful at the lack of alone time I get during the day. Instead, I took matters into my own hands, set the alarm and found a whole list of beautiful reasons to rise early. Now if I could just get our kids to sleep through the night…
Tell me, are you an early riser? Or do you prefer the night hours?