Want to get a lot done? Beat the rush and get a leg up on your colleagues and competitors? Interested in ensuring that you never feel like “there's just not enough time in the day”? Well, then you’re going to have to get up early. After all, it’s the go-to move for pretty much any successful person.
In a five-year study of hundreds of self-made millionaires, author Thomas C. Corley found that over 50% of them woke up at least three hours before their actual work day began. Waking up early to get things done gives you more control over your life, Corley writes in his book, Change Your Habits, Change Your Life. “It gives you a sense of confidence that you, indeed, direct your life. It gives you a feeling of power over your life.”
Maybe you'll use the time to catch up on emails before heading into the office. You could get in a proper workout and enjoy a nice breakfast without feeling rushed. Or put the time towards a hobby or a side project before your kids get up. Whatever you decide, make the time work for you. Just know that becoming a morning person isn't about self-control. It's about forming good habits. After all, habits eliminate the need for self-control.
We all have an underlying bodily mechanism that dictates when we start to feel sleepy at night and awake in the morning. This internal clock is, of course, called our “circadian rhythm” and it not only regulates our daily cycles of sleep and wakefulness, but also hunger and digestion, hormonal activity, and a slew of other processes. But most sleep experts agree that this is a system that can be trained and adjusted. So here are some smart ways to harness that morning energy and put it to good use.
Start the Night Before
There is some will-power involved. Ex-Navy SEAL Jocko Willink, who wakes up at 4:30 am, says that you have to impose some discipline to make it work. You've got to commit to attacking the day but your best time to do that is not when you wake up, but before you go to bed. Get a good pre-bed routine in order to help you fall asleep faster and ensure enough rest. Set your alarm knowing what you're waking for, so when the alarm goes off, you're mentally ready to attack the day.
Step Away From the Snooze Button
That extra sleep you steal back by hitting the snooze button comes in small chunks and isn't good quality, according to the National Sleep Foundation. And it can actually do you some harm. Since the snooze session doesn't last long enough for you to finish a complete sleep cycle, you could end up feeling super groggy for the first hour and a half of your day. Your body and mind aren't recuperating. You're really just wasting time.
Use Light Strategically
Light can be a really helpful way to influence and adapt your natural circadian rhythm. Research indicates that it may have a stronger effect on night owls, since light suppresses our bodies' melatonin production. So when night owls are exposed only to natural light, their internal body clocks shift earlier. Exposure to bright light in the morning is considered one of the best ways to become more of a morning person and shift your ability to naturally wake up earlier.
Be Consistent (Even on Weekends)
The good news is that you really can become a natural morning person. The bad news is that it’s a seven-day-a-week job. Wake up at the same time every day. If you must, you can sleep in a little on the weekend, but we’re talking about 30 extra minutes, maximum. Your body becomes conditioned to this and regulates your sleep patterns accordingly. You'll not only getting more of that precious REM sleep, but when your body becomes accustomed to a regular wake time, you actually begin the process of waking up long before your alarm sounds.
Start With Something Positive
Research has shown, getting out of bed on the right foot can impact your mood for the entire day. Which is why experts suggest planning a positive, healthy and motivating first activity. It could be a workout, you could meditate, listen to an inspiring podcast or journal your intentions for the day.
* Ease Into It: Start shifting your bedtime earlier, using increments of 15 minutes. At the same time, adjust your alarms to wake up 15 minutes earlier.