This past week, I have been learning everything I can about getting up early. As a work-at-home mom, it started as my way of seeing how early I could get done working so I could have more of the day back to do other things.
Intellectually I was already aware that the earlier you get up the better, but the more I looked into it for motivation, the more I learned that EVERYTHING starts with getting up early. Getting up early sets the tone for your entire day, and, in turn, life. It’s astounding. Here’s how my experience with working on getting up early is going so far, and all my thoughts that I just had to share!
Getting up Early Is Great, but You Still Have to Sleep
Obvious, but this has been a boundary for which I have tested limits for years. Sometimes because the night was too much fun to end, sometimes because I had to study or work late at night or early in the morning or both.
I didn’t quite understand the importance of sleep between 10 p.m. and 2 a.m., the number of sleep cycles a person needs, or the fact that hitting the snooze button would send me back into a sleep cycle, making me more tired than if I had just gotten up in the first place (that last one was the most eye-opening by far for me this week!).
I’m sure I’ve heard all these things before here and there, but kind of just brushed them off as things that didn’t really apply to me or that I didn’t need to care about. I didn’t need to follow the sleep rules. No one can tell me what time to go to bed. That kind of vibe.
I haven’t even gotten into all this stuff about sleep for health reasons, although I know that that is a whole other level of mind-blowing information that I could stand to learn. I really started all of this because I wanted to know how late I could go to bed while still getting up super early so I could get work done early so I could get on with my day.
I started out the week (I started focusing on this on Tuesday) getting up just a few minutes before 5 am. I felt great, and was able to get in two and a half hours of work before our three year old even woke up. Then I was able to take an hour break from working and we snuggled in my bed before her babysitter got here.
Later that day, I continued to watch YouTube videos about getting up early and started delving into the world of “what it means if you wake up between 3 and 5 a.m. everyday.” Had to watch those because come to think of it, sometimes I do wake during those hours!
Normally I go back to sleep, but after learning about this magical window of time, I decided that if I did wake up naturally anytime between 3 a.m. and when my alarm was set, I would attempt to put my feet on the floor and see if I could meditate for a few minutes.
The next morning I woke up at 3:05 a.m. I put my feet on the floor and sat up, meditated for about 20 minutes, and then I felt like I might as well get up and start my day because imagine all that I could get done if I started getting stuff done that early!
I learned quickly that if you went to bed at 11 p.m. the night before, you aren’t going to be able to get up at 3 a.m. Plenty of people get up at that hour and get tons accomplished, but they went to bed at 8 or 9 p.m. That bedtime is not going to work for me, so 3 a.m. is out.
I worked on our taxes and some other random stuff that I had been putting off, and then around 5 a.m. I realized how crazy my plan had been and knew I had better sleep or else the whole day would be ruined. So I went back to bed until 6:30 a.m. and felt like a normal person the rest of that day. Crisis averted.
The next day I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m. and I think another one for 4:45 a.m. I got up at 5:38 a.m. and was honestly disappointed in myself because I really meant to get up earlier so I could get started working earlier. It’s still early, but not as early as I wanted.
Finally, on Friday I settled back on getting up right around 5 a.m. I think this is my happy place. I’m trying to make 10:45 p.m. my bedtime, and then 4:45 a.m. my wake up time. I really want to get up at 4 or 4:30 a.m., but that would mean I have to get to bed by 10 or 10:30 p.m. Not sure if I can make that happen, although that brings me to my next point.
How Are You Spending Your Time: Are You Consuming or Creating?
This was another point that blew my mind as I was searching for motivation on getting up early. This may not apply to everyone, but I can say for myself I am worlds more productive during those first few hours of the morning.
First and foremost, there are few distractions, and it is much easier to be disciplined enough to not check social media or email first thing. Also, generally, no one else is up. No one is texting, no one is calling.
This is the time to create! Whether that’s literally doing something creative, or working out, or getting in work hours, or studying.
The opposite of that are those evening hours, when we are much more likely to be consuming: watching TV, checking social media, browsing the internet. Which is fine and makes total sense: we need time to just zone out after a long day. But how many hours of that stuff do we really need?
I watched several videos that helped me see it this way: those last few hours of the night can be traded for those first few hours in the morning. So if you are the person who is staying up until midnight watching TV and on your phone (me sometimes), what if you intentionally got to bed two hours earlier, which allows you to get up two hours earlier than everyone else, which allows you to be I don’t know how many times more productive, but it’s significant.
The bottom line for me is that the morning hours matter more. It’s worth it to get to bed earlier. It’s not really a sacrifice when you consider what you are trading. Although I’m still battling with my bedtime, I now am starting to understand that staying up until 11:30 at night watching a show or doing mindless stuff on my phone is just not worth it, especially when I can easily still do those “fun” things just a little bit earlier in the night and still get to bed by 10:45 p.m.
The Early Morning Is the Time for Good Habits
Plenty of people are using this time to workout. Some people have home gyms, others go to the gym, others get outside and run. I don’t fall into this category right now and I’m okay with that. But this means that the excuse of no time to exercise is simply not true. Whatever the goal, anyone can create these extra few hours for themselves and do whatever they want with the time.
Others are studying. If you want to be inspired, watch a high school or college student share with you their early morning study routine. Oh if I had only been together enough to figure this out back then! I had no idea you could decide to get up so early and basically design your entire day at that young age. It is just so incredibly inspiring. We aren’t victims of our life circumstances. Not when we intentionally get up early anyway.
I personally have started drinking lemon water first thing. This is a habit I started years ago, and then got out of for whatever reason and I haven’t done it for a long time. But I saw a couple of YouTubers sharing their first thing in the morning lemon water ritual. Coincidentally, we received about 100 lemons from a friend’s lemon tree this week, so I figured I would give it a shot.
I squeeze a half lemon into hot water. You can do hot or cold water, but I am accustomed to a hot drink first thing. I have been drinking tea (and then later coffee) first thing for years. I knew about the lemon water thing and just ignored it. Now I’m back and I do like it and I know it’s good for me.
This morning I meditated for 20 minutes, which is another habit I used to live by but had fallen out of. It’s the weekend and I haven’t committed to meditating first thing on the weekdays yet, but I might have to add that in to the routine because it was so nice today!
When You Get up Early, You Feel Like You Are Living Your Best Life
I took down so many notes yesterday on all the feelings I was having about having gotten up early that morning. This was one of the things I wrote down, and it pretty much encompasses everything else I had written down, which are as follows:
- Clearer mind all day
- Able to make decisions more quickly
- Feel calmer
- Feel ahead of the day
- Things seem easier
- Don’t feel so rushed or behind
- Little things aren’t as bothersome or annoying
- Able to reflect on how you want things to be different and how you can take proactive action to make change in your life
- Feel more excited, hopeful, optimistic instead of the opposite
- More energy
- Always know you have the next day’s morning hours to get to whatever it is that you want to do
I made a green smoothie earlier this week, which I haven’t done in a very long time, It was on the day that I got up right around 5 a.m. It was a beautiful day outside, the idea came to me, and I just did it. Also I had been watching videos of people’s morning routines and many were making healthy smoothies and talking about how they just wash everything right away. Because they had time. Because they got up early. Which inspired me to make a quick smoothie, that on another day might feel like just one step too far. Too much effort. Not worth it.
I have felt that way about cooking for months. I just hate planning and preparing meals. It’s just one more thing and honestly it’s just easier to order in. Sometimes ordering in doesn’t cost all that much and its just easier.
I have also felt pretty bloated (is there a word to make that sound less gross?) for a few months and definitely not my healthiest. As much as I can rationalize spending money on ordering in because it’s just easier, I have to admit that I feel better when I eat better. Which means making food at home. So I’m working on that now, because when you get up early, you have a few minutes to think about what you want your best life to look and feel like, and that’s exciting!
Also, I have to say that just because I feel great in the morning, doesn’t mean the whole day goes exactly perfectly. I wrote all those bullets above in the morning when I was feeling my best, but I definitely had my moments of feeling frustrated, overwhelmed, annoyed, unfocused, etc., especially later in the day. But I still truly believe that on the days I get up early I am able to bounce back more quickly from those not-so-great moments, rather than spiral in the other direction.
I knew I had a lot to say on this topic. I have really been focusing on it all week, and I feel like my eyes have been opened up to a whole new world of intentional living. I honestly haven’t made any major lifestyle changes other than that I’m really focusing on getting to bed by 10:45 p.m. so I can get up right around 5 a.m. And I drink hot lemon water first thing now. But all the other healthy habits I’m still dabbling in and that’s ok.
I’m not trying to be perfect or have the perfect set of healthy habits. I started this experiment because I wanted to create more time in my day. What I learned was that it’s so much more than time that you give yourself when you get up early.
You give yourself all the possibilities that life has to offer. You give yourself a fresh perspective with each new day, and the satisfaction of living an intentional life. It truly is magical, and it’s worth fighting for. Like fighting yourself and the temptation to sleep in, because that is the main obstacle to achieving this goal. No one that gets up early wouldn’t love sleeping in, it’s just that they love their intentional life just enough more to win that battle each day.
Are you a morning person, or thinking about becoming one?