At around 10:00 pm, I say goodnight to my mom, dad, and sister, giving each of them a kiss on the cheek. For the next ten minutes, I floss, brush my teeth, and wash my face, before getting under my bed’s sheets and comforter. After positioning my fluffy, plump pillow perfectly under my head, I close my eyes and drop my hands to my side. I toss and turn for about fifteen minutes until I am relaxed and ready to sleep.
This is my routine: go to bed early and wake up early. For as long as I can remember, I have absolutely loved getting up early, usually around 7:00. But, I would be lying if I said this is how I have always felt about getting up early. Here are some things to consider before trying to stick to a strict wake-up schedule:
1. Be Honest With Yourself
You might have heard about successful, well-known people like Tim Cook and Richard Branson getting up around 4:00-5:00 am. While this routine may work for them, it is definitely not for everybody, myself included. For a few weeks, I forced myself to wake up no later than 6:00 am. In my head, this was the key way to have a productive day. But, this quickly became unmanageable and unrealistic. There were nights I stayed up late watching Criminal Minds with my mom until 2:00 am. Other times, I simply wanted to sleep in, even though I went to bed at a very early hour.
After some time, I came to realize that I have my most efficient days when I wake up at the time I want; not what Tim Cook recommends and not what Richard Branson believes is the best time to doze off. Picking a routine you genuinely enjoy is essential to sustaining it. For nearly two years, I have followed the exact same schedule, with going to bed around 10:30 pm and waking up at 7:00 am.
Remember, you know yourself the best. Be honest with yourself; an unfeasible plan will never work out.
2. Look Forward to Waking Up Early
When you hear your alarm ring, you may feel the urge to continue sleeping. Nothing in the world sounds better than staying in your cozy bed, snuggling with a blanket. What is the point of waking up early? What is there to do? These thoughts are understandable, and I have also been in the same place. But, when you finally have something to look forward to in the morning, you will want to jump out of bed. It will not feel like a chore.
For me, it is going on a morning walk and then returning home to make my favorite breakfast: a smoothie and almond butter toast with banana, slathered in honey. I even think about this when I am falling asleep. Watching television? Playing with your dog? Drinking coffee? Exercising? Reading? Whatever your incentive is to get out of bed, it is perfect if it works for you.
3. Be Patient
If you have a big paper due for your English class in a week, would you do it all the night before? No, you would, ideally, write for a chunk of time every day until you are finished. Likewise, you should not move your wake-up time significantly overnight. Instead, set your alarm ten minutes earlier every day until you work your way up to the time you want to wake up. But, this may take longer than you anticipated. And that is completely alright.
4. Make Your Bed
Every morning, before doing anything else, I make my bed. It is the first thing I can cross off on my mental to-do list. Completing this task successfully every morning is a terrific start to my day.
William H. McRaven, a retired United States four-star admiral, is the author of the book Make Your Bed. McRaven explains that making your bed daily can not only make you more productive but also give you a bit of hope after a long, hard day. Even though you may have a handful of important tasks that you need to accomplish, starting your morning off on the right note by making your bed can make you feel prepared for the rest of your day.
And, after coming home, you will always have a clean, tidy bed and room to greet you.
Think of making your bed as a "reset button." When you make your bed, you are able to acknowledge that it is a new day. Everything that happened yesterday or the day before is irrelevant. Now, it matters what you do today.
A two-minute task can set the tone for the rest of your day. Why not do it?
Avoiding watching television or scrolling through your phone before bed is a good habit to implement into your night routine. Stephen Lockley, a Harvard sleep researcher, has explained that light at night is the reason many do not get an adequate amount of sleep. I encourage myself to unplug from the technology around an hour before bed. Instead, I read a book until I begin to feel tired.
This has affected the quality of my sleep significantly. But, it is important to note that I do not always do this. There are times where I am too captivated by a television show to press "stop" on the remote. It is vital to approach a sleep schedule with balance.
6. Remain Consistent
Most of us look forward to sleeping in on Saturday and Sunday. But, this is not the best choice to make. Not staying consistent with your sleep schedule on the weekend will disrupt your body's rhythm. Over time, waking up early in the morning will become a habit, and you will feel less inclined to sleep in on weekends.
I urge you to try waking up early. You might love it; you might hate it. At the end of the day, do what makes you happy, whether that is sleeping in until noon or waking up at 6:00 am.